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OSHA issues stronger workplace guidance on COVID-19

Provides updated guidance, outlines existing safety and health standards

Posted February 1, 2021

OSHA has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a COVID-19 protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. 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.

The guidance states that employers should implement a COVID-19 protection program in the workplace, and include the following key elements:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that COVID-19 policies and procedures are communicated in a language that workers understand.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19-related concerns.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols, and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene, and routine cleaning.

OSHA says it will update the guidance as developments in science, best practices, and standards warrant.

This article was written by Rachel Krubsack of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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