OSHA's COVID-19 Standards: Everything You Need to Know

  As an HR professional or employer, it's important to know the latest info related to the pandemic. In some ways, however, workplace regulations are a moving target. For this reason, companies must make every effort to stay in front of evolving standards. With this in mind, there was some speculation about President Biden's stance on COVID-19. Now, however, the president has made the nation's position clear To learn everything you need to know about OSHA's current COVID-19 standards, keep reading.

The New Administration Is Still Establishing COVID-19 Standards

Now, there are OSHA COVID-19 standards at the federal and state levels that you should know. In California, for example, the OSHA state board has adopted its own standards. The state has imposed significant requirements on employers in California. Most notably, companies there must keep paying workers who need time off due to COVID-19. The new administration was fast to implement changes. In the first two days, Pres. Biden signed about 30 executive orders. One of those orders was the Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The order provides direction to the federal government. It compels agencies to work toward reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. What's more, it urges them to do so quickly. Also, the order calls for agencies to make use of science-based guidance. Agencies are to use this information to protect public safety. As of January 20, 2021, Al Stewart is the acting Secretary of Labor. You will remain in that role until the Senate confirms a nominee. Meanwhile, Stewart has issued a new executive order. The first part of the order calls for action by February 4, 2021. By then, Stewart calls for additional revised guidance. The government will direct the guidance toward employers regarding workplace safety and coordination. He'll also call for agencies to determine if the standards are still necessary. These measures include wearing masks in the workplace. If so, he calls for a new standard by March 15, 2021. Then, the government will review OSHA's current COVID-related enforcement efforts. They'll also decide whether to take immediate or long-term action. The government will base the decision on whether additional measures are needed. The measures will protect American workers. They'll also take steps to ensure equity and enforcement of current preventative measures. Furthermore, the government will establish a national enforcement effort. The effort will identify COVID-19 related violations. At that time, the government will start by focusing on the largest groups of workers at serious risk. The order also directs agencies to target companies that oppose anti-retaliation principles. Furthermore, the government will conduct a multidepartmental, multilingual outreach campaign. The campaign will educate workers on their rights. It will inform them about protections under current OSHA safety and health laws. During these engagements, the government will work with labor unions. They'll also work with community organizations and industry associations. They'll focus their efforts on the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current COVID-19 Workplace Guidelines

Now that you know what to look out for in the coming months, here's what you need to know now. In November 2020, OSHA published emergency standards for COVID-19. OSHA emphasizes that their guidance does not constitute regulations. In other words, companies aren't legally obligated to follow the recommendations. Instead, OSHA's current guidance on the coronavirus is advisory. It's meant for informational purposes. OSHA wants the recommendations to assist employers in supporting health and safety. However, employers must continue to comply with federal OSHA regulations. They must also continue to comply with any OSHA regulations put forth by their state. Nevertheless, OSHA's latest instructions can help to reduce the impact of COVID-19. By following their guidance, you can support the health of your employees. You can also support the health of customers. Firstly, OSHA suggests starting with planning. Your plan should include addressing specific exposure risks. It should also address sources of exposure. Likewise, it should address routes of transmission and other characteristics of the coronavirus. Furthermore, OSHA recommends preparing for worsening conditions. The agency warns that lack of preparation can lead to failures in the continuity of service. Accordingly, the agency recommends a few steps. Employers should follow these steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus exposure. The first step is to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. It's important that employers stay informed. You should seek guidance from federal, state, local, and tribal authorities. This information will inform leaders. It will tell them how to incorporate the recommendations into workplace planning. Your plans should address all levels of risk associated with different sites. You should also assess risks associated with tasks. These considerations may include where employees might get exposed to the coronavirus. They should also include how employees could face exposure.

Getting Started: Establishing a Plan

Companies should also consider other risk factors. For instance, they should consider how employees could contract COVID-19 outside of work. In other words, employers should consider employee's individual risk factors. These factors may include increased age. Alternatively, increased risk factors may include conditions that can compromise the immune system. Risk factors may also include natural occurrences such as pregnancy. In either case, OSHA suggests that employers address how to manage these kinds of risks. Furthermore, OSHA compels employers to prepare for sudden spikes in COVID. With this in mind, you must prepare for a potential increase rate of worker absenteeism. You may also need to develop a COVID-19 surge policy. For example, you may need to increase social distancing. For instance, you might stagger work shifts. You might also downsize your operation temporarily.

COVID-19 Office Guidelines for Employees

As an employer, OSHA emphasizes the importance of promoting basic infection prevention measures. All employees should implement good hygiene and infection control practices. These practices include frequent and thorough hand washing. Also, staff members should stay home if they're sick. OSHA also encourages employers to promote respiratory etiquette. This practice includes covering sneezes and coughs. Employers should also make respiratory etiquette easier for customers. For example, you should make sure to provide tissues in public areas. You should also provide trash receptacles. Furthermore, employers should explore whether their company can operate using flexible worksites. This practice may include allowing remote working. It may also include increasing physical distance between employees in the workplace. Also, employers should discourage workers from sharing spaces such as desk and offices. They should also avoid sharing work-related tools. These tools may include computers, phones, and other equipment whenever possible. Companies should also maintain regular housekeeping practices. These practices include the disinfecting of cleaning and services. They also include the regular cleaning of equipment. The practices should also include other elements of the workplace. Furthermore, companies should use EPA-approved disinfectants. These products are more likely effective against harder to kill viruses. Hopefully, they’re also effective against COVID-19.

Identifying Infected Staff Members

OSHA also recommends that employers develop isolation policies. These policies will tell workers how to identify and isolate sick individuals quickly. This step is important for employees and customers at worksites. Accordingly, you should encourage employees to self-monitor for symptoms of the coronavirus. You should also develop policies and procedures for reporting signs of COVID-19. Furthermore, you'll need to establish procedures for quickly isolating those with symptoms. You also need to train workers and how to implement those procedures. It's important to move potentially infected individuals away from workers and customers. Also, you should do so as fast as possible. With this in mind, you might establish designated isolation rooms. The area should have closable doors where you can separate people from the worksite. Employers must also take steps to limit the spread of secretions of someone who may have COVID. For instance, you might provide that individual with a face mask and ask them to wear it. Furthermore, you must limit the number of people enter the isolation area. Employers must also protect healthy workers who were in close and repeated contact with the infected. For example, you might need to place plastic barriers between employee work areas. The use of personal protective equipment and safe work practices can also help to ensure the safety of all employees.

COVID-19 Employer Responsibilities

The best tool for preparing employees for the pandemic is education. With appropriate training, education, and information, you can ensure that staff members know what they need to do to remain safe. In the Corona-Eric, training is essential for worker health and safety. This training might include proper hygiene practices. It might also include instructions on how to use personal protective equipment. Training, however, has another benefit. Informed workers feel safe. Accordingly, they're less likely to call out of work unnecessarily for fear of contracting the coronavirus. As an employer, it's highly beneficial to provide employees with up-to-date education. This training should inform workers about COVID-19 risk factors and protective measures. Training on points such as cough etiquette and PPE care can go a long way toward reducing the spread of the coronavirus. For this reason, it's important to train workers on the proper use of protective clothing and equipment. They need to know the right way to put it on and wear it. Employees also need to know how to remove PPE correctly. Furthermore, they need to know how to do so in the context of their work duties. Finally, employees should understand the training that you provide easily. Accordingly, you should also make it available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all employees.

Partnering for COVID-19 Preparedness

It takes time and money to develop an effective training course. Instead of creating your own training, you'll find that it's much more with a well-qualified training vendor. A leading training vendor can make it easy to share information about COVID-19 safety. Furthermore, a top training vendor can help you to standardize your training. They'll also allow you to condense the training into a relatively brief course. It's also a good idea to choose a certified training vendor. A certified vendor can allow your staff members to apply their training to continuing education credits. You'll also want to select a vendor with a self-paced learning solution. A leading training vendor can make it easy to train your employees. With the training, you can inform them regarding current CDC recommendations. They can also make it easy for you to provide training on what employees should do if they suspect that they or someone else has contracted the virus. Finally, you want to choose a vendor who can provide training easily using the internet. Furthermore, your vendor should provide this kind of training for a nominal per seat fee.

Start Setting Effective COVID-19 Standards in Your Workplace

OSHA COVID-19 standards change quickly, and more changes are already planned. Resultantly, employers need an efficient way to train their staff as required. However, it's also important to find a cost-effective way to perform this task. A well-qualified training provider can make it easy for you to access timely, concise COVID-19 training. It's important that your employees know all the possible steps that they can do to help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. The right training partner can help you to meet this objective.

A Trusted Partner in Compliance Training

Now you know everything you need to know about OSHA's current COVID-19 standards. All you need now is a leading training partner to make the important work of COVID-19 training easier. HIPAA Exams is one of the few IACET accredited HIPAA training providers in the United States. We specialize in professional and management development training. Our primary focus is on healthcare, workplace safety, and legislative compliance. For more than 13 years, we've provided professional training for leading organizations. During that time, we've provided coursework for Massachusetts General Hospital, Scripps research, and the US Air Force. We're your solution for engaging, web-based compliance training. Contact HIPAA Exams today at (888) 362-2288 or connect with us online. We're ready to learn more about meeting your organization's training needs.