OSHA Announces New COVID-19 Guidance: What Is Recommended and What Is Not

Alerts / August 24, 2021

On Aug. 13, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new COVID-19 guidance. The guidance brings OSHA in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) July 27, 2021 recommendations regarding mask wearing by fully vaccinated individuals. While OSHA describes its guidance as “advisory in nature and informational in content,” it still provides employers with helpful insight into dealing with workplace safety issues resulting from the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19.

What Is Recommended?

OSHA now “suggests” that employers adopt policies requiring workers to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.     

In areas of the country where the CDC determines there is “substantial or high” risk of COVID-19 transmission, the guidance advises employers to require fully vaccinated workers to wear masks while working indoors.   

In all other areas of the country, OSHA recommends that fully vaccinated employees be required to wear masks while working indoors for 14 days if they come into close contact with anyone who has COVID-19 unless they have a negative COVID-19 test at least three to five days after the most recent contact.

Nonvaccinated employees should continue to wear masks indoors and social distance as per prior OSHA and CDC guidance.

What About Those Covered by OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard?

The new guidance does not apply to healthcare-related employers (e.g., hospitals and nursing homes) and employees who are covered by OSHA’s previously issued Emergency Temporary Standard. 

Authorship credit: James W. Seegers and Darren A. Crook

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