OSHA Issues New Workplace Guidance on Coronavirus
The Department of Labor announced today that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction.
The new guidance, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, recommends several essential elements in a prevention program, including: (1) conducting a hazard assessment; (2) identifying control measures to limit the spread of the virus; (3) adopting policies for employee absences that do not punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home; (4) ensuring that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers; and (5) implementing protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.
The guidance also details measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.
In its announcement, OSHA notes that this guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.
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