REVISED GUIDELINES, JANUARY 29, 2021:
On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued Revised Guidance on COVID-19 safety for workers. The Revised OSHA Guidance incorporates guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on face coverings, social distancing and contact-tracing, the use of personal protective equipment, and routine cleaning and disinfection. The Revised Guidance also adds detailed recommendations for minimizing the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19.
The Revised Guidance suggest that employers:
- Implement a workplace COVID-19 prevention program that includes:
- A workplace coordinator,
- A program to educate and train workers on the risk of COVID-19 and prevention practices,
- An anonymous process to report concerns,
- Social distancing guides,
- Flexible work hours to minimize exposure,
- The installation of barriers, such as plexiglass;
- Supplying and enforcing face covering requirements,
- Installing ventilation systems, and
- Providing needed Personal Protective Equipment;
- Quarantine and isolate workers that have been infected by or exposed to COVID-19;
- Implement enhanced cleaning and disinfecting;
- Set up COVID-19 screening and testing programs;
- Report COVID-19 infections for companies that have had 10 or more employees in the last year;
- Pay for vaccination of employees; and
- Ensure not to discriminate against unvaccinated employees.
The new guidelines are not a federal standard or regulation, so it does not create new legal obligations on employers. However, the Revised OSHA Guidance, should not be ignored. First, while the Revised Guidance is not mandatory, an employer is required under OSHA to provide a safe and healthful workplace. The Revised Guidance will likely be considered in determining whether an employer’s workplace is safe and healthy. Second, taking these precautions will reduce any potential that they could be found to be liable if a customer or employee did contract the virus, by showing that the flooring retailer and contractor took all reasonable steps to avoid spreading COVID-19. Lastly, President Biden has already directed OSHA to consider issuing a temporary emergency standard for COVID-19 and present a decision for public review by March 15, 2021. WFCA understands that OSHA is already in the process of developing the outline of such an action. Adherence to the guidelines discussed above may lessen the burden of meeting these standard once they are enacted.
The Guidance can be accessed HERE and it is recommended that all employers should review these suggested actions to protect their employees. In addition, OSHA has also previously issued guides for the Construction Workforce and Construction Work, which are still applicable. WFCA further suggests that flooring retailers and contractors also check with their state and local governments to see if they have imposed any additional requirements or guidelines. At least 17 states have implemented COVID-19 safety rules for workers, and a number of others are considering such rules.
OSHA regularly updates its guidance and all flooring retailers and contractors should check to see if any new guidance is published. WFCA members can access any updates by visiting the OSHA Coronavirus Webpage. You can also get additional information regarding the OSHA and Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) guides on operating safely on the WFCA website at: Reopening Safely - A Practical Guide and OSHA Publishes New Guidelines for Reopening Businesses.
WFCA will continue to provide updates on any new guidance.
Notice: The information contained in this update is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.