January 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 27

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OSHA Updates COVID-19 Safety Guidance for All Industries

On August 13, 2021, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its COVID-19 guidance documents for employers in all industries. The new recommendations echo those published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 27, 2021, and build upon OSHA’s healthcare industry requirements.

In some of its most powerful language yet (and stopping just short of an absolute requirement), OSHA “strongly encourages” employers to provide paid time off to workers for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.

IN DEPTH


In addition:

  • Employers should consider working with local public health authorities to provide vaccinations for unvaccinated workers in the workplace. Employers should also consider adopting policies that require workers to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing—in addition to mask wearing and physical distancing—if workers remain unvaccinated.

  • Fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission should wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers.

  • Fully vaccinated workers who have close contact with people with COVID-19 should wear masks for up to 14 days, unless they have a negative COVID-19 test at least three-to-five days after this contact.

OSHA also described manufacturing; meat, seafood and poultry processing; high-volume retail and grocery; and agricultural processing settings as “higher-risk workplaces.” The agency reorganized some of its COVID-19 guidance materials to clarify the recommendations that apply to these workplaces, including issues surrounding:

  • Carpooling and busing

  • Assembly lines

  • Ventilation in high-density workplaces

  • Customer-facing roles and stockroom roles

As it has done previously, OSHA continued to emphasize that employee vaccination is the best way to protect employees from COVID-19. OSHA’s top priority appears to remain focused on protecting unvaccinated workers and those who are immunocompromised (regardless of vaccination status).

OSHA also reaffirmed that it continues to assess the necessity and applicability of the June 21, 2021, Emergency Temporary Standard for healthcare employers.

© 2022 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 230
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About this Author

Michelle S. Strowhiro
Partner

Michelle S. Strowhiro is an employment advisor and litigator. She provides trusted counsel to US and international companies on all aspects of employment law compliance. Michelle partners with clients to establish and maintain their strong and lawful employment policies and practices; manage their employee relationships from hire to termination; conduct workplace investigations; administer leaves and other workplace accommodations; and resolve disputes. She provides manager and employee trainings on management and sexual harassment. She regularly prepares and negotiates...

310-788-1571
Abigail M. Kagan Employment Attorney McDermott Will & Emery New York, NY
Associate

Abigail M. Kagan focuses her practice on employment law, with particular experience in conducting transactional due diligence, defending single-plaintiff, class and collective actions, second-chairing labor negotiations, and drafting personnel policies and other employment documents. She has advised clients on EEO concerns, the gig economy, data privacy, leaves of absence, reductions in force, wage and hour audits, unemployment insurance, short-term disability, restrictive covenants, and NLRA application to non-union members.

Abigail has conducted internal investigations and...

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