Following President Biden’s January mandate to OSHA to provide clear guidance to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, OSHA has issued “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”

OSHA’s new guidance is intended to inform employers and workers of the risks of COVID-19, help identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19, and help determine appropriate control measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. While neither a new standard nor regulation that creates new legal obligations on behalf of employers, this guidance represents a significant shift in OSHA’s response to the pandemic.

OSHA now clearly states that employers should implement COVID-19 prevention programs specific to their workplaces, recommending specific program elements, including:

  • Assigning a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19
  • Identifying where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work through hazard assessments
  • Identifying a combination of control measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace
  • Establishing a communication system that all employees can utilize and understand
  • Adopting non-punitive measures and policies to ensure that workers who are infected or potentially infected are separated and sent home from the workplace
  • Performing enhanced cleaning and disinfection after people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 have been in the facility
  • Making a COVID-19 vaccineor vaccination series available at no cost to eligible employees
  • Continuing to require protective measures despite employees being vaccinated
  • Ensuring that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns

As President Biden continues to make responding to the COVID-19 pandemic a cornerstone of his presidency, employers can likely expect more guidance in the coming weeks.