OSHA Issues New Guidelines – Rules May Follow

OSHA is recommending that employers continue to require workers to wear masks, social distance, and stay home if they are ill – practices that many employers are already following – even after employees begin to be vaccinated. This is a portion of OSHA’s new COVID-19 guidance released Friday, January 29, 2021. The agency is recommending certain steps:

  • 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 coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers; and
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

While the guidance does not impose new legal requirements on employers, it often precedes rulemaking. Additionally, OSHA has a general duty clause that allows for citations when employers do not follow safety protocol that is standard in the industry. Employers are well-advised to pay close attention to the guidance and follow it whenever possible.

If you have questions about this, call Employers Council staff – we can help.