On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) that outlines new requirements for healthcare settings. In addition, OSHA issued updated guidance for non-healthcare employers regarding protocols for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated or at-risk employees in the workplace. We have summarized the pertinent portions of the guidance for non-healthcare employers below.
The guidance provides that unless otherwise required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, most employers no longer need to take steps to protect their fully vaccinated workers who are not otherwise at-risk from COVID-19 exposure. However, OSHA recommends that employers should still take steps to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces. Employers should engage with workers and their representatives to determine how to implement multi-layered interventions to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Granting paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
- Instructing all workers who are infected with or have symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home.
- Instructing unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID to stay at home.
- Implementing physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in communal work areas.
- Providing, at no cost, face coverings for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers.
- Educating and training workers on company COVID-19 policies in accessible formats and languages.
- Suggesting unvaccinated customers, visitors, and guests wear face coverings.
- Maintaining appropriate ventilation.
- Performing routine cleaning and disinfection.This includes following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
- Recording and reporting work-related cases of COVID-19 under 29 CFR 1904.
- Implementing protection from retaliation for workers who raise concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
- Following any other applicable mandatory OSHA standards.
The guidance also sets forth measures appropriate for higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers.
It is important to note that the recommendations are advisory in nature and are not mandatory. We recommend that employers review the guidance in its entirety which can be found here.