Texas Lawyer magazine has published an article by M2D partners Mike Muskat, Michelle Mahony and Corey Devine about the latest COVID-19 guidance from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “COVID-19’s Not Going Away and Neither are Workplace Safety Concerns” (subscription required) answers the most common questions employers have about the new guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In the article, Mr. Muskat, Ms. Mahony and Mr. Devine discuss OSHA’s revised guidance, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace,” which follows recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including advice that fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.
They also address lingering questions many employers have about managing workers during the pandemic. Some key takeaways include:
• OSHA’s guidance does not mandate workplace masking. The guidance is not binding, which means it does not have the force of law or regulation. It does, however, reflect the agency’s view that employers must continue to work to keep employees safe.
• The updated guidance does state in general terms that employers should continue or reinstitute workplace masking, including for fully vaccinated people, especially in higher-risk workplaces.
• There are quite a few questions the guidance leaves unanswered, including how employers can legally determine which workers have weakened immune systems.
• OSHA acknowledges that people with weakened immune systems can be considered “at-risk” and employers should take additional steps to protect them, including requiring them to wear masks whenever possible.
Mr. Muskat, Ms. Mahony, and Mr. Devine also stress in the article that employers should review OSHA’s guidance carefully and determine how best to implement it.
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