On May 17, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advised employers to follow the new CDC mask guidance for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Although this provides some guidance for employers, it is important that businesses continue to practice workplace safety protocols that reflect the unique characteristics of each workplace, and account for the fact that many workers and others who visit their businesses are not fully vaccinated.
On May 13, 2021, the CDC announced its revised guidance that fully vaccinated people may resume most of their pre-pandemic activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. Although this guidance addressed a number of circumstances where fully vaccinated people gather, it did not end the need for employers to continue to assess their abilities to provide safe work environments, or risk citation by OSHA for failing to do so.
On May 17, OSHA announced in an update to its website that it is “reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will update our materials on this website accordingly.” Until then, OSHA instructed employers and workers to “refer to the CDC guidance for information on measures appropriate to protect fully vaccinated workers.” https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus
Employers should be aware that the CDC’s and federal OSHA’s guidance is still subject to state and local orders, as well as the unique requirements of businesses and workplaces. Therefore, businesses should continue to monitor the state and local orders and guidance in effect where they are located. Businesses should be purposeful in how they track which of their workers are fully vaccinated and stay updated with the law limiting or prohibiting the use of “vaccine passports” when considering how to maintain a safe workplace environment for employees, customers and visitors.