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06.01.2021 - HR Tidbit

HR Tidbit - COVID and OSHA

June 1, 2021

The Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19


Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work.

The most effective COVID-19 prevention programs engage workers and their representatives in the program's development and implementation at every step, and include the following elements:

  1. Assignment of a workplace coordinator
  2. Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  3. Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, in line with the principles of the hierarchy of controls.
    1. eliminating the hazard by separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people from the workplace;
    2. implementing physical distancing in all communal work areas [includes remote work and telework];
    3. installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
    4. suppressing the spread of the hazard using face coverings;
    5. improving ventilation;
    6. using applicable PPE to protect workers from exposure;
    7. providing the supplies necessary for good hygiene practices; and
    8. performing routine cleaning and disinfection.
  4. Consideration of protections for workers at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
  5. Establishment of a system for communicating effectively with workers and in a language they understand.
  6. Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in a language they understand.
  7. Instruct workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home and isolate or quarantine.
  8. Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers.
  9. Isolating workers who show symptoms at work.
  10. Providing guidance on screening and testing:
  11. Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths:
  12. Implementing protections from retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards:
  13. Making a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees.
  14. Not distinguishing between workers who are vaccinated and those who are not:
  15. Other applicable OSHA Standards: All of OSHA's standards that apply to protecting workers from infection remain in place.

Workers who have or likely have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine until they meet CDC guidelines for exiting quarantine.

More guidelines can be found on OSHA.gov.

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