OSHA Response to Executive Order to Create Workforce Guidance on COVID-19
By Darcy Cook, Safety Trainers
President Biden directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday, January 21, 2021 to release new guidance to employers on protecting workers from COVID-19.
In one of 10 executive orders that he signed, the president asked the agency to step up enforcement of existing rules to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace and to explore issuing a new rule requiring employers to take additional precautions.
OSHA posted an Executive Summary on January 29, 2021 in response to the executive order.
Employers should implement COVID-19 Prevention Programs in the workplace. The most effective programs engage workers and their union or other representatives in the program's development, and include the following key elements:
Take a sneak peek as to what is to come by way of a new federal law.
If you have attended our workshops, your plan already has 1-12 and 16 in your written COVID-19 Control Plan. The highlighted yellow area below 13, 14, and 15 is new information that I have not presented in the past in our trainings and presentations.
Here is a short summary.
- Assignment of a workplace coordinator,
- Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 – Hazard Assessment,
- Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 using Hierarchy of Controls,
- Consideration of protections for workers at high risk for sever illness,
- Establishment of a system for communication effectively with workers in a language they understand,
- Educate and train workers on your policy and procedures,
- Instruct workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home, isolate and quarantine,
- Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers,
- Isolating workers who show symptoms while at work, screening and testing,
- Performing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting,
- Providing guidance on screening and testing,
- Recording and Reporting,
- Implementing protections for retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns,
- Making a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees,
- Not distinguishing between or making exceptions for workers who are vaccinated and those we are not, and
- Other applicable OSHA standards that apply to COVID rule include requirements for PPE (29 CFR 1910, Subpart I (e.g., 1910.132 and 133)), respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134), sanitation (29 CFR 1910.141), protection from bloodborne pathogens: (29 CFR 1910.1030), and OSHA's requirements for employee access to medical and exposure records (29 CFR 1910.1020).
There is no OSHA standard specific to COVID-19; however, employers still are required under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause serious physical harm or death.
Do you feel like you need some help working on your COVID-19 Control Plan to meet OSHA’s guidance? Call us. We can help.
You can see the full document on OSHA’s website https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
Darcy Cook is President of Safety Trainers, a division of Cook Professional Resources, Inc. (Worcester, MA). She can be reached at (508) 799-2857 or at email@example.com or www.safetytrainers.com