EXECUTIVE ORDER ON PROTECTING WORKER HEALTH AND SAFETY – OSHA AND COVID-19
On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety,” which requires the Department of Labor (“DOL”), acting through its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), to issue new COVID-19 workplace safety guidance for employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act within two weeks of the date of the Executive Order. OSHA did so on January 29, 2021.
It’s possible that your organization may be impacted next month if/when OSHA issues updated regulations about what programs/processes employers may have to provide to remain compliant in these plague-ridden times. I’ve highlighted a few components of the potential changes in the item that may impact you so that you can have a head’s up should any impact your daily operations.
It appears many of these may be industry-specific, and my behind the scenes research indicates many are driven by litigation that has arisen from the early days of COVID against employers in the food/poultry/services industry. While on their face, these changes seem to be common sense, they could have a notable financial impact on business operations in certain work environments.
A few key elements include:
- appoint a Covid “coordinator;”
- have an anonymous hotline for employees to report Covid concerns;
- record employee Covid illnesses/deaths;
- ensure employees for whom English is not their native language have access to information they can readily understand; and
- enhance existing filtration and/or ventilation systems.
So far, Kentucky has not enacted legislation that would shield employers from liability (as several states have) in the event an employee contracts Covid in the workplace, so clients who fail to adhere to OSHA are potentially at risk if they fail to follow the ever-evolving guidelines.
We will keep you posted as requirements become more evident. We encourage you to have your safety managers review the Executive Order and requirements to determine if and how these can impact you. As always, we are here to help.
Gwen, Sr. HR Consultant