The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance on June 10, 2021, regarding mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated guidance now focuses on protections for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk employees. This update reflects the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people. It emphasizes industries noted for prolonged close-contacts like meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery and high-volume retail.
On Jan. 29, 2021, the original guidance provided requirements employers should take to implement a workplace COVID-19 prevention program and did not include information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- OSHA provided the guidance for employers as recommendations to use in protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers.
- Employers and workers should use the guidance to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.
OSHA provides that most employers no longer need to take steps to protect their workers from COVID-19 exposure in any workplace—or well-defined portions of a workplace—where all employees are fully vaccinated. The new guidance updates the roles of employers and workers in responding to COVID-19 for those that are at-risk or unvaccinated.
There is also an appendix to the guidance, with measures for high-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers. It notes that employers should take additional steps for high-risk situations due to the following factors: close contact, duration of contact, type of contact and other distinctive factors.
What You Should Do Next
Continue to take steps to protect at-risk or unvaccinated workers in the workplace. Consider implementing multilayered interventions to protect such workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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