[co-author: Jessie Chen]*
On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) which outlines new requirements for most healthcare settings, along with guidance for non-healthcare employers. This post addresses OSHA’s guidance for non-healthcare employers. While employers were expecting more definitive directives from the federal government’s primary health and safety agency, they will, instead, have to consider whether and to what extent they should adopt the suggested measures to continue to promote a safe workplace.
The recent OSHA guidance provides that, unless required by federal, state, local, or other laws, rules, and regulations, most employers no longer need to take steps to protect their fully vaccinated workers who are not otherwise at-risk. But, employers are encouraged to engage with their workforce to implement measures to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers, including:
OSHA provided additional guidance to employers that operate workplaces that are considered higher-risk environments, which include those where there is close or prolonged contact among employees, or shared transportation, housing, or communal spaces. In these environments, OSHA recommends the following additional steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers:
While most of these recommendations are in line with initial guidance from OSHA, the CDC, and other agency and governmental orders, the continued emphasis on the mitigating measures confirms OSHA’s expectations for employers across industries. We recommend all employers review the guidance carefully and consider adjustments to their current policies and practices as appropriate. It is also important to keep in mind that OSHA is just one of the agencies providing COVID-19 guidance to employers; we are tracking guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and Department of Labor (“DOL”), as well as from state and local agencies and will provide updates as they are published. As always, we are here to help.
*Jessie Chen served as a Blank Rome 2021 summer associate