Management Northwest – Update – OSHA Update COVID-19 Guidance
By Patricia Latham Ball, Esq.
On August 13, 2021, OSHA updated its guidance to protect workers and mitigate and/or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. OSHA adopted the CDC’s recommendations issued on July 27, 2021. These critical changes were covered in MNW’s most recent free member webinar and also in a MNW legal e-update. OSHA’s recommendations mirror CDC (everyone should wear masks indoors whether or not vaccinated and the quarantine/testing times were revised); therefore, please contact MNW if you have not already receive this CDC guidance.
OSHA also “strongly encourages” employers to provide paid time off to workers to obtain vaccinations and recover from side effects, as it states that vaccinations are the most effective way to protect workers. It also suggested, but has not yet required, that employers consider adopting policies requiring workers to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing – in addition to mask wearing and distancing.
OSHA noted that many healthcare workplaces are covered by the mandatory Emergency Temporary Standard (covered in the June webinar), which is already in effect. See MNW for more information.
As to all workplaces, OSHA reminded employers that under its General Duty Clause (OSHA Section 5(a)(1)), employers are required to provide their workers with a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause serious physical harm or death. This Section is used for enforcement purposes.
Note: Be very careful about OSHA’s use of the term “guidance” since OSHA makes it clear that it will look to whether these CDC and OSHA guidances are being followed when determining whether you kept your workers safe. Following CDC/OSHA guidance is your best defense against enforcement liability.
Patricia Latham Ball, Esq.