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OSHA Updates COVID-19 Guidance

Employers encouraged to implement mask-wearing indoors for all workers in areas with high community transmission

On August 13, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued revised guidance on masking and other COVID-19 safety protocols for the workplace. The updates bring OSHA's guidelines in line with those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which aim to maximize protection from the Delta variant and protect unvaccinated and other at-risk workers.

The revised OSHA guidance:

  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks to protect unvaccinated workers
  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with COVID-19 wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least 3-5 days after such contact
  • Clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing, and agricultural processing
  • Links to the latest guidance on K-12 schools and CDC statements on public transit

OSHA also continues to promote vaccination to provide optimal protection to workers. Employers are encouraged to implement plans that "require workers to get vaccinated or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing—in addition to mask-wearing and physical distancing—if they remain unvaccinated.”

For more information on OSHA's updated COVID-19 guidance, employers can reference Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.