OSHA raising the bar on COVID safety rules.

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Take a fresh look at your organization's COVID safety measures now that OSHA has issued updated guidance for employers. While the document breaks little new ground, it does add needed detail to OSHA's previous recommendations for workplace preventative measures.

This batch of revised guidelines is just the warm-up for what comes next. President Biden has ordered OSHA to follow up with emergency temporary standards by mid-March. Those will likely have more enforcement teeth and include new binding requirements on employers.

Last month's guidance reiterated that "wearing a face covering is complementary to and not a replacement for physical distancing." Also, vaccinated workers should continue to wear masks and keep six feet apart from co-workers (see below).

Among the other steps that the OSHA guidance recommends employers take:

Assign a workplace coordinator to be responsible for COVID issues.

Conduct an assessment to identify where and how workers might be exposed to the virus.

Identify measures to limit the spread of the virus in the workplace. Depending on the work environment, those might include physically distancing employees, installing barriers between them, improving ventilation, supplying personal protective equipment and establishing a rigorous routine to clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment.

Establish policies and practices specially designed to protect workers at higher risk for severe illness, including older workers and those with serious underlying medical conditions. The guidance emphasizes that many infection-prevention measures will qualify as reasonable ADA...

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