OSHA Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance to Match CDC’s July 27th Protocol on Masks Indoors in Public Places even for Fully Vaccinated Employees in Substantial or High Transmission Areas

On Friday, August 13, 2021, OSHA issued an updated Guidance document regarding COVID-19 Plans and the General Duty Clause. OSHA has now adopted CDC’s July 27th Protocol in which Fully Vaccinated employees must wear masks indoors in “Substantial” or “High” Transmission areas. While OSHA states that the “Guidance” is not a “Standard,” the General Duty Clause is mentioned in substance and by name several times, amounting to OSHA indicating that OSHA will consider the Guidance likely to suffice for employers to have “knowledge” of a hazard likely to cause death or serious illness. Since March 2020, OSHA’s Guidance has continually urged employers to have a written COVID-19 Plan. Healthcare employers are required unless exempt or excepted to have a written COVID-19 Plan as of a final date of July 21st under the Emergency Temporary Standard. All other employers should strongly consider, more than ever, a written COVID-19 Plan with visible signs of protective measures in the workplace to seek to avoid an OSHA General Duty Clause citation in the event of an outbreak with one in-patient hospitalization or other inspection that can be expanded into a COVID-19 inspection due to the National Emphasis Program updated by OSHA on July 7, 2021. Be Prepared – Have a Written COVID-19 Plan to document your protective measures regardless of your industry!

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