The U.S. Department of Labor announced the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger workplace safety guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.
The guidance seeks to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction.
“Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards.
“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” says senior counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”
The new guidance recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:
- Conduct a hazard assessment.
- Identify control measures to limit the viral spread.
- Adopt policies for employee absences to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home and don’t punish workers.
- Ensure coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
- Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.
“OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working,” says principal deputy assistant secretary for occcupational safety and health Jim Frederick. The guidance is not a standard or regulation, and creates no new legal obligations. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.
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