Updated OSHA Workplace Guidance Aligns with CDC Recommendations

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As predicted in our previous blog post, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) did, indeed, (on August 13th, 2021) update its COVID-19 Guidance for the Workplace to bring it in line with the guidance issued by the CDC.   This guidance addresses most workplaces; however, healthcare workplace settings will be covered by the mandatory OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard.

OSHA updated its COVID-19 Workplace Guidance adopting analogous recommendations to those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC recommendations, most recently updated on August 19th, 2021, were revised in response to the Delta Variant of COVID-19.  That decision by the CDC was based upon preliminary evidence which suggested that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can be infectious and can spread the virus to others.

This evidence led the CDC to update recommendations for fully vaccinated people to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others.  It recommends:

  • wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission;
  • choosing to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if individuals are at risk or have someone in their household who is at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated; and
  • getting tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wearing a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.

Please refer to the following:  Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

OSHA also continues to recommend implementing multiple layers of controls (e.g., mask wearing, distancing, and increased ventilation).  The recommendations are advisory in nature and informational in content and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.  However, remember that all employers must comply with any other applicable mandatory safety and health standards and regulations issued and enforced either by OSHA or by an OSHA-approved state plan.

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