At the end of January, OSHA issued Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. According to OSHA, the guidance is intended to inform employers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement. For Oregon employers, the new OSHA guidance will look familiar (as it includes guidance previously issued by Oregon OSHA). Some highlights include adopting Covid-19 prevention programs that include:
- Assignment of a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues on the employer’s behalf.
- Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work (including a hazard assessment to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19).
- Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace (including a combination of eliminating the hazard, engineering controls, workplace administrative policies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other measures, prioritizing controls from most to least effective, to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards).
- Consideration of protections for workers at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices.
- Establishment of a system for communicating effectively with workers and in a language they understand.
- Instruction to workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home and isolate or quarantine to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (including ensuring that absence policies are non-punitive).
- Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers (including allowing workers to telework, or work in an area isolated from others, or allowing workers to use paid sick leave, and/or consider implementing paid leave policies to reduce risk for everyone at the workplace).
- Isolating workers who show symptoms at work.
- Performing enhanced cleaning and disinfection after people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 have been in the facility.
- Providing guidance on screening and testing.
- Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths.
- Implementing protections from retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
- Making a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees.
- Not distinguishing between workers who are vaccinated and those who are not (including requiring workers who are vaccinated to continue to follow protective measures, such as wearing a face covering and remaining physically distant).
More information about each of these protective measures and details for implementation are here: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework