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OSHA Updates Guidance for Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

June 14, 2021

On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance now focuses on protections for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk employees. OSHA’s update to the guidance reflects the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people. This guidance emphasizes industries noted for prolonged close-contacts like meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery and high-volume retail.

The original guidance issued on Jan. 29, 2021, provided requirements employers should take to implement a workplace COVID-19 prevention program and did not include information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

• OSHA provides this guidance for employers as recommendations to use in protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers.

• Employers and workers should use this guidance to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.

Updated Guidance
OSHA provides that most employers no longer need to take steps to protect their workers from COVID-19 exposure in any workplace—or well-defined portions of a workplace—where all employees are fully vaccinated. The new guidance updates the roles of employers and workers in responding to COVID-19 for those that are at-risk or unvaccinated.

The guidance also provides an appendix with measures for high-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers. It provides that employers take additional steps for high-risk situations due to the following factors: close contact, duration of contact, type of contact and other distinctive factors.

Employer Next Steps
Employers should continue to take steps to protect at-risk or unvaccinated workers in their workplace. Employers can do this by implementing multilayered interventions to protect these workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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This Legal Update is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
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