With the publication of the standard came new guidelines or recommendations, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for all other businesses. The CDC's Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People explain that under most circumstances, fully vaccinated people need not take all the precautions that unvaccinated people should take. For example, CDC advises that most fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing. People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks or more after they have completed their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States. However, CDC suggests that people who are fully vaccinated but still at-risk due to immunocompromising conditions should discuss the need for additional protections with their healthcare providers. CDC continues to recommend precautions for workers in transportation settings.
OSHA recommends that employers take the following steps to protect at-risk or unvaccinated workers:
- Grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
- Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in all communal work areas.
- Provide unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers with face coverings or surgical masks, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE.
- Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in language they understand.
- Suggest that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
- Maintain Ventilation Systems.
- Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
- Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths.
- Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.
- Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards.
Federal OSHA is authorized to set emergency temporary standards that take effect immediately and are in effect until superseded by a permanent standard. OSHA must determine that workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to protect them. Then, OSHA publishes the emergency temporary standard in the Federal Register, where it also serves as a proposed permanent standard. It is then subject to the usual procedure for adopting a permanent standard except that a final ruling should be made within six months.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515.289.1999 if you have any questions about the new guidelines or the new Emergency Temporary Standard.
The Presidential Executive order may be read in its entirety here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/21/executive-order-protecting-worker-health-and-safety/
The new guidelines, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, may be read in its entirety here: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
Click here for a flowchart to determine if your workplace is covered by the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS