On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance now focuses on protections for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk employees. OSHA’s update to the guidance reflects the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people. This guidance emphasizes industries noted for prolonged close-contacts like meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery and high-volume retail.
The original guidance issued on Jan. 29, 2021, provided requirements employers should take to implement a workplace COVID-19 prevention program and did not include information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
OSHA provides that 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. The new guidance updates the roles of employers and workers in responding to COVID-19 for those that are at-risk or unvaccinated.
The guidance also provides an appendix with measures for high-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers. It provides that employers take additional steps for high-risk situations due to the following factors: close contact, duration of contact, type of contact and other distinctive factors.
Employer Next Steps
Employers should continue to take steps to protect at-risk or unvaccinated workers in their workplace. Employers can do this by implementing multilayered interventions to protect these workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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Information abstracted from Zywave’s “OSHA Updates Guidance for Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” article.