OSHA updates COVID-19 guidance

Employers should still take steps to protect unvaccinated or at-risk workers in their workplaces.
logo, company name

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 which applies to healthcare settings.

 For all other industries, OSHA issued updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated guidance for non-healthcare industries includes both recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory OSHA safety and health standards. 

To delineate between recommendations and mandatory standards, OSHA distinguishes the mandatory standards in bold print throughout the guidance, the NLBMDA said.

According to OSHA’s guidance, 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 unless otherwise required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. 

The guidance states that employers should still take steps to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces, or well-defined portions of workplaces.

OSHA recommends the following actions to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from exposure to COVID-19:

  • Grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
  • Instruct 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.
  • Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in all communal work areas.
  • Provide unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE.
  • Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in language they understand.
  • Suggest that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
  • Maintain ventilation systems.
  • Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths.
  • Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
  • Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards.

OSHA’s full detailed guidance for non-healthcare employers can be found here.