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OSHA issues updated Covid-19 guidance on protecting workers

The occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised its guidance on protecting workers and preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. The most recent update recommends employers to use “multiple layers of protection,” including mask wearing, social distancing and testing, to safeguard unvaccinated workers and to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus.

While the new OSHA Covid-19 guidance pertain to all non-healthcare employers, it also incorporates additional safety measures for agriculture and food processing industries.

OSHA’s Covid-19 Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People

The regulatory agency continues to emphasize that vaccination is the most effective way to protect against the Delta variant of Covid-19. OSHA now suggests that workplaces consider mandating employees to get vaccinated or to wear masks, physically distance themselves from others, and undergo regular Covid-19 testing if they remain unvaccinated.

OSHA Covid19 Guidance Workplace CDC Recommendations

The agency also adopted the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) updated recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Here’s a full list of OSHA’s Covid-19 vaccine guidance:

  1. Help workers get vaccinated.
  2. Instruct workers who are infected to stay home from work.
  3. Provide workers with surgical masks or face covering, unless their work also requires specific PPE.
  4. Mandate physical distancing in all communal work areas for at-risk or unvaccinated workers.
  5. Suggest that unvaccinated customers wear surgical masks in public-facing places such as retail shops or in areas of high transmission such as a hospital.
  6. Record and report all Covid-19 related infections and deaths.
  7. Mandate protections from retaliation in the workplace. Set up an anonymous process for whistleblowers to voice concerns about Covid-19 related hazards at work.
  8. Train employees on the company’s Covid-19 policies.

OSHA’s guidelines for Covid-19 are only advisory for non-healthcare companies. We advise all private and public employers to review their policies and framework aimed at mitigating the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. Considering the rapid surge of delta variant, we advise employers to evaluate existing safety procedures with your legal counsel and determine the most effective and appropriate measure to implement in the workplace.

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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