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OSHA Issues Updated Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Today, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an updated guidance document on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.  The guidance document is designed to help employers protect workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk and also implement new guidance involving workers who are fully vaccinated but located in areas of substantial or high community transmission.  The document has been updated to reflect the July 27 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masking and testing for fully vaccinated individuals. 

The guidance also contains descriptions of OSHA’s mandatory safety and health standards, which are labeled throughout the document as “mandatory OSHA standards.” While OSHA notes a continued emphasis on vaccinations as the optimal step to protect workers and continues to encourage employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or at-risk workers from the coronavirus, the updated guidance contains several new recommendations.  These include: 

--That fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers;

--That fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with coronavirus wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least 3-5 days after such contact; and

--Clarifying recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in several industries.

 The updated guidance document is available here.

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