By
RW Smith, Holmes Murphy Senior Loss Control Consultant

COVID-19 — it’s been at the forefront of workplace safety since early last year. And while it’s been a challenge (and at times even tricky to understand federal, state, and local rules and guidance), we’ve had to do it to protect our employees and businesses.

New Administration Response to COVID-19

As of late, there has been much speculation about how the leadership change in Washington may affect how we deal with COVID-19 both in general and in the workplace.

What we know right now is that on January 29 the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a stronger guidance document for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. This updated document provides 16 elements of a comprehensive plan for controlling the spread of the virus in the workplace as well as recommendations for employee training, sanitation, and care for infected employees. Here’s access to the full guidance document.

OSHA Recommendations on COVID-19 Workplace Plan

Implementing a COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The updated guidance announced by OSHA recommends several essential elements in a prevention program, including the need to:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers, as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home
  • Ensure that 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

If you have operations in Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, or California, then you are required to implement a COVID Prevention Plan in accordance with the Emergency Temporary Standards of those states. Each of these state plan OSHA agencies have their own unique requirements for a COVID Prevention Plan, so check to make sure you are following their standards.

Above all, we want to get through this pandemic with our employees protected and our workplaces intact. Holmes Murphy offers numerous resources for addressing COVID-19. You can find them in our COVID-19 Resource Center.   

And, as always, if you have any questions or would like any assistance with your COVID-19 response, be sure to reach out to your Holmes Murphy Loss Control Consultant or representative.