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OSHA Updates Guidance on COVID-19 Workplace Protections, Recommends Mask Wearing in Higher Risk Areas

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration updates guidance on COVID-19 workplace safety based on latest data and information from the Centers for Disease Control
  • Fully vaccinated workers encouraged to wear masks in certain circumstances
  • OSHA continues to emphasize vaccination as the best strategy for improving COVID-19 workplace safety

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

With the Delta variant driving increased infections of COVID-19, including rare breakthrough cases of vaccinated individuals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is updating its guidance on protecting workers from the virus.

OSHA says its recommendations clarify or expand on information from current data and the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. These recommendations also include measures specific to higher risk areas where the presence of unvaccinated people is more likely and where there is prolonged close contact between workers and/or customers, including manufacturing, K-12 education, high-volume retail and grocery stores, and food processing businesses.

OSHA says fully vaccinated employees should wear masks in areas of “substantial or high community transmission” as an added measure of protection for unvaccinated workers. It also recommends that fully vaccinated people who are exposed to someone with the coronavirus wear a mask in the workplace for up to 14 days after the contact, unless they test negative within three to five days.

OSHA continues to emphasize that encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect workplaces against the virus, and encouraged employers to “implement multi-layered approaches” to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees and visitors.

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