Aug 17, 2021

OSHA Issues Updated Guidance for COVID-19

By Joseph Maddaloni, Jr.

On Friday, August 13, 2201, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued guidance that aligns its workplace recommendations for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic with the recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (“CDC”). OSHA recommends that employers consider adopting policies that require workers to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing if they remain unvaccinated. OSHA also recommends that all workers, even those who are fully vaccinated, wear masks and physical distance in areas of substantial or high community transmission to protect unvaccinated workers.

In addition to aligning with the July 27 CDC guidelines, Friday's guidance from OSHA is also meant to aid employers and workers not covered by the June 10 emergency rule that set workplace safety parameters for employers in the health care sector. Earlier this year, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and the acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, Jim Frederick, announced the so-called emergency temporary standard, or ETS, that laid out what employers must do to protect health care workers from COVID-19.

The ETS, which exceeds 900 pages, requires employers in the health care sector to maintain social distancing protocols, make sure that patients are properly screened for virus symptoms and give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from vaccine side effects. Health care employers are also required to craft a virus safety plan that includes specific components if more than 10 workers are employed. Covered employers must also screen workers prior to their shifts, provide masks and other personal protective equipment to employees for use in certain high-risk situations, ensure that masks are worn indoors and changed daily, and put in place ventilation procedures when dealing with patients who may have the virus, among other things. The OSHA guidance includes many of these same recommendations for employers outside of the health care industry.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently issued Executive Order No.: 252, which implements many of these same requirements for health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings in New Jersey. The Governor’s Executive Order goes into effect on September 7, 2021.

If you are concerned about your workplace policy and protocols for addressing COVID-19, our labor and employment law attorneys can help you work through the guidance and recommendations issued by OSHA and the CDC, and achieve compliance with any workplace requirements. Please contact Joseph Maddaloni, Jr., or Cynthia L. Flanagan for assistance or if you have any questions.

DISCLAIMER: This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.