OSHA ISSUES STRONGER WORKPLACE SAFETY GUIDANCE TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES FROM COVID-19 VIRUS

EMA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers to implement a coronavirus prevention program and identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. The guidance, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The guidance is not a standard or regulation and creates no new legal obligations for employers. Instead, it contains recommendations and descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards.

The updated guidance recommends that employers adopt the following elements for their workplace COVID-19 prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences who do not punish workers to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

The guidance also details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including keeping infected or potentially infected people out of the workplace; implementing and following physical distancing protocols; and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. The guidance also offers advice on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.