OSHA likely to pursue guidance for employers concerning COVID policy

According to the Magazine for Environment, Health and Safety Leaders, the US Supreme Court’s stay on the COVID vaccine mandate is not the last U.S. employers will hear about the matter.

January 26, 2022 OSHA announced it is preparing a General Duty violation to through the agency’s rule-making process. The update will be based on a “guidance” OSHA issued in August 2021, which identified eleven elements the agency wants to see placed into action describing the role of employers in protecting workers:

1. Facilitate (but not necessarily require) employees getting vaccinated.
2. Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work.
3. Implement physical distancing in all communal work areas for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers.
4. Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks as appropriate.
5. Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures.
6. Suggest or require that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
7. Maintain ventilation systems.
8. Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
9. Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths.
10. Implement protection from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns.
11. Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards including those governing PPE, respiratory protection, sanitation, employee access to medical and exposure records.

The OSHA General Duty Clause applies to all employers, so if this guidance is put into effect, it will not be limited to employers with 100 or more employees.

Those watching the process closely recommends those employers that have implemented a COVID-19 policy already consider updating it to address the eleven listed elements, and watch for any new announcements from OSHA in the coming weeks.

More to come in TMA’s Weekly E-News Bulletin. Contact info@tmaillinois.org to get on the weekly email.