OSHA announced today that it has developed stronger safety guidance to help employers implement coronavirus protection programs and identify risks that could lead to exposure. This announcement comes after President Biden’s executive order last week directing OSHA to provide employers with better guidance on preventing COVID-19 exposure.
“Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” identifies several elements essential employers should include in their COVID-19 prevention programs:
- 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.
- Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.
- Ensure coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English- speaking workers.
The guidance also details measures employers can implement to limit the spread of the virus, such as physical distancing protocols, use of surgical masks or cloth face coverings, and removing infected or potentially infected people from the workplace. In addition, the guidance offers best practices for the use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, routine cleaning and proper hygiene.
“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” says M. Patricia Smith, senior counselor to the Secretary of Labor. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”
This guidance will be updated regularly based on developments in science, best practices and standards.
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