OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance

By Robert G. Chadwick, Jr., Partner, Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP.

In accordance with President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order, OSHA published new guidance on January 29, 2021 for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The new guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as to the implementation of a COVID-19 prevention program. 

All of OSHA’s standards that apply to protecting workers from infection remain in place. These standards include: requirements for personal protective equipment (29 CFR 1910, Subpart I (e.g., 1910.132 and 133)), respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134), sanitation (29 CFR 1910.141), protection from bloodborne pathogens: (29 CFR 1910.1030), and OSHA’s requirements for employee access to medical and exposure records (29 CFR 1910.1020). These standards have already formed the basis of OSHA citations.

There is no OSHA standard specific to COVID-19; however, employers still are required under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause serious physical harm or death.

Robert G. Chadwick, Jr. frequently speaks to non-profit organizations regarding occupational safety and health issues. To contact him for a speaking engagement, please e-mail him at rchadwick@realclearcounsel.com.

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