The new US administration released new workplace safety guidelines on January 29, 2021, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Here’s what employers need to know.
Under the OSH Act, employers are legally responsible for providing a “safe and healthy workplace, free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
COVID-19 is a serious disease capable of causing serious physical harm and death. Now that we know more about the disease and how it spreads, employers are responsible under OSHA for following guidelines to protect workers from this disease. The new guidelines will help you do that.
Many workplaces now have a variety of COVID-19 prevention measures in place. Face coverings, social distancing, and frequent hand hygiene have become the norm.
The new guidelines encourage employers to take the next step and develop a full workplace safety program using the following steps:
Every workplace has different needs and requirements to maintain a safe and healthy environment for employees. However, the guidelines recommend that every COVID-19 prevention program include at least these elements:
The new guidelines specifically call for increasing ventilation within the workplace. This is important because COVID-19 is an airborne virus that can accumulate in enclosed spaces. The higher the viral load in a given space, the more likely others are to contract the disease.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a rash of new companies and products have hit the market designed to improve ventilation and air filtration. The good news is that in most cases, expensive investments are not necessary.
Most HVAC systems already provide the ability to increase the intake of external air, without adding new equipment. Additionally, cleaning and maintaining HVAC equipment can help move air more quickly and efficiently through your facility. This has the added bonus of making the equipment more energy efficient.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace is an ongoing responsibility, and not just “set and forget.” To ensure that your company is keeping its people safe, assign a workplace coordinator who will oversee both the development of the program and its ongoing implementation and reinforcement.
The new COVID-19 guidelines provide employers with clear instructions for meeting OSHA’s requirement to provide a safe and healthy environment for workers, so you can feel confident that you’re doing all you can to protect your people. You can read the full guidelines on OSHA’s site here.
The administration has indicated that there will be additional guidelines and possibly new mandates in March. We will keep you updated. Subscribe to ensure you receive the news when it comes out.