The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently added a frequently asked question related to best practices for protecting workers regardless of vaccination status to its non-ETS FAQs.
The FAQ reads:
What are best practices that all employers should consider taking to protect workers regardless of vaccination status?
Conducting a workplace risk assessment for potential COVID-19 exposure, preparing a response plan and taking steps to improve ventilation are all activities consistent with CDC guidance to promote public health and workplace health.
In addition, on June 10, OSHA updated its Jan. 29 guidance on Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which applies to nonhealthcare employers. The summary of changes as of June 10 include focusing protections on unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and adding links to guidance with the most up-to-date content.
ABC’s general counsel, Littler Mendelson P.C., wrote an analysis of the OSHA ETS and updated guidance, titled Federal OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard for Health Care. The article states that the update clarifies how OSHA wants employers “to 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.”
These steps include:
- Granting paid time off for employees to get vaccinated
- Instructing any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work
- Implementing physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in all communal work areas
- Providing unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE
- Educating and training workers on the employer’s COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and language(s) they understand
- Suggesting that unvaccinated customers, visitors or guests wear face coverings
- Maintaining ventilation systems
- Performing routine cleaning and disinfection
- Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths
- Implementing protections from retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards
- Following other applicable mandatory OSHA standards.
The Littler article further states, “While many of the items on this updated list were previously present in the initial guidance, the fact that OSHA reviewed and noted updates further confirms OSHA’s expectations for employers in all industries. Employers outside of the healthcare industry are advised to closely review the updated guidance and make further adjustments to their own internal policies and procedures, as appropriate.”
ABC will keep members updated about this issue in Newsline.