June 10, 2021
OSHA Updates COVID-19 Guidance for Employers
On June 10th, OSHA announced a new “Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare” and updated guidance for “everyone.” Here are some highlights from the guidance for employers under the “everyone” category.
The guidance expressly states, “This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.” Whew? Before you breathe a sigh of relief and stop reading, consider this. When a federal agency tells employers what it recommends employers do and an employer chooses to not follow that guidance, it could give rise to a negligence or other claim. So, now that I have your attention again, let’s recap.
What’s the purpose? The guidance provides a list of 11 steps employers should follow 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.” Many of the items are not new and have also been recommendation by the CDC. A few examples include:
- Grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
- Provide unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks.
- Suggest that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
- Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
Q & A: Must you record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination on your OSHA 300 log? For now, the answer is, “No.” OSHA gave notice that answer is subject to change. (Item #9)
The guidance does remind us about existing mandates and requirements.
- If you determine that PPE is necessary to protect unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, you must provide PPE in accordance with relevant mandatory OSHA standards. You should consider providing PPE in accordance with other industry-specific guidance. (Item #4)
- If someone who has been in the facility within 24 hours is suspected of having or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow the requirements in mandatory OSHA standards and CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations. (Item #8)
- For employers with 11 or more employees and in industries not otherwise exempt, record any “work-related” cases of COVID-19 on your OSHA 300 Logs. (Item #9)
If you are an employer with employees who provide healthcare or healthcare support services, click here for your mandatory regulations. You have until June 24th to comply with most of the requirements.