The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now released new COVID-19 guidance for those industries that weren’t covered by its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). This new guidance covers significant issues and addresses its adoption of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for employees that are fully vaccinated.
OSHA now states that under most circumstances, fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear masks or socially distance while working. Although, they admit that there could still be some risk for people that take medications that affect their immune systems or have a health condition.
There are some workplaces covered by OSHA’S ETS that have different requirements. Also, there are some mask requirements for public transportation. But most employers don’t need to take any special precautions to protect their workers if the workers are fully vaccinated. However, employers should consider protecting any employees that are at-risk or haven’t yet been vaccinated. OSHA’s guidance concentrates on these workers.
OSHA recommends that employers encourage their workers to get vaccines by giving them paid time off to get the vaccine and to recover from the vaccine. Also, any worker with symptoms of COVID-19 or any worker who is unvaccinated or at-risk who has been exposed to an infected person should stay home.
Employers should also require that unvaccinated and at-risk workers wear a mask and socially distance themselves. Along with this, employers should provide training in a language employees understand, maintain their ventilation systems, and clean and disinfect their premises according to CDC guidelines.
For higher-risk workplaces, there is additional guidance. Employers should stagger the arrival, departure, and breaks of their employees. They should also improve their ventilation and mark where their employees should walk to avoid being too close.
Other precautions that should be taken are to install barriers for workers that will be closer than six feet from each other. Also, unvaccinated employees should be warned about the risk if they will be traveling on buses or vans provided by the employer. Additionally, the number of passengers should be limited, and unvaccinated or at-risk employees should wear masks.