What feels like a lifetime ago, but in actuality, is just shy of a year ago, we all were just beginning to hear the word “coronavirus”. We quickly found out how serious this virus is and how it impacts everyday life and business. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided some recommended guidelines and safe practices for employers to follow to help keep workers safe. The guidance while helpful, was not enforceable like OSHA’s other standards, leaving employers confused on what they needed to do to keep their employees safe. In an executive order issued on January 22, 2021, President Biden ordered OSHA to start developing new enforcement guidance to be published within two weeks and Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to be ready to roll out and enforce no later than March 15, 2021.
On January 29, 2021, OSHA officially published stronger and more developed worker safety guidance aimed at helping employers and employees implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify the risks of exposure and contracting Covid-19. While these new guidelines are still not enforceable by OSHA, employers should take note of the new guidance and think about how they will follow and implement the ETSs once they are released. One of the key differences within this new guidance is the creation and implementation of a Covid-19 Prevention Program which lays out steps for employers to follow in conducting a hazard assessment specifically for Covid-19 hazards. Some of the steps include:
- Assigning a Covid-19 workplace coordinator
- Conducting a hazard assessment
- Establishing systems of communication between employers and employees
- Screening and testing
- Training and employee education
- Implementing proper cleaning procedures
The new guidance can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
If you are looking for help on how to interpret the guidance or help on how to apply specific steps of the guidance to your facility, CAPACCIO can help! We have a team of safety and health professionals that are ready to help you not only maintain compliance but to also provide guidance on the implementation of best practices. Please contact Christine Silverman or Travis Wheeler if you would like to find out how we can help you develop a Covid-19 Prevention Program that can pass muster with OSHA.