On August 13, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) updated its Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (the “Guidance”). Among other things, the updated Guidance reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) Interim Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, which recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Our blog post on the CDC Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People can be found here. A detailed discussion of the Guidance follows.
The Guidance is intended for non-healthcare employers as “recommendations to use in protecting unvaccinated workers and otherwise at-risk workers, and to help those workers protect themselves.” The Guidance “is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.”
The Guidance reflects the CDC’s recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The Guidance states that under some circumstances, fully vaccinated people need not take all the precautions that unvaccinated people should take, however, “in light of evidence related to the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend that even people who are fully vaccinated wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, or if they have had a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 and have not had a subsequent negative test 3–5 days after the last date of that exposure.”
The Guidance further states that employers “should engage with workers and their representatives to determine how to implement multi-layered interventions to protect unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” including:
Recommendations for Unvaccinated Employees. The Guidance states that multi-layered controls tailored to the workplace are “especially important for those workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk.” The Guidance recommends that unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk individuals can help protect themselves by taking the following steps:
In addition to the above, the Guidance also provided recommendations specific to higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers, such as manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, high volume retail and grocery, and seafood processing.
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