January 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 28

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January 28, 2022

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Updated OSHA Guidance on COVID-19

On Friday, August 13, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance for general industry in order to help protect workers from COVID-19. OSHA issued this new guidance so it would be consistent with the latest science and data and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. OSHA currently recommends that:

  • Fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission (most of the country) wear masks in public indoor settings in order to protect unvaccinated workers

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

As before, OSHA continues to recommend that employers:

  • Facilitate employees getting vaccinated

  • Encourage workers who are infected or who have been exposed to stay home from work

  • Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and at-risk workers

  • Provide face coverings or face masks for unvaccinated and at-risk workers

  • Educate and train workers on their COVID-19 policies and procedures in languages they can understand

  • Instruct unvaccinated guests to wear face coverings in public-facing workplaces and that all guests wear face coverings in public, indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission

  • Maintain ventilation systems

  • Perform routine cleaning and disinfection

  • Record and report COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths where applicable

  • Implement protections from retaliations and consider an anonymous process for voicing concerns regarding COVID-19

  • Follow other mandatory OSHA standards

OSHA reminds employers that this is merely guidance consisting of suggestions and recommendations and is not a standard or regulation and creates no new legal obligation. As such, it is important for employers to assess their workplace and potential exposure of their workforce and determine what is best to protect their employees. This may include some or all of the recommendations listed above.

© 2022 Jones Walker LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 230
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About this Author

Jane H. Heidingsfelder, Jones Walker, MSHA Employer Representation Lawyer, Injury Reporting Policy Attorney
Partner

Jane Heidingsfelder is a partner in the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group in the New Orleans office. She has extensive experience representing clients in a wide array of industries before the Occupational Safety & Health Administration ("OSHA") and Mine Safety & Health Administration ("MSHA"). In particular, she is frequently asked to assist companies during on-site safety and health investigations, as well as in subsequent litigation with the Department of Labor. 

Ms. Heidingsfelder has defended clients in state and federal...

504.582.8306
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