On January 21, President Biden issued an executive order intended to strengthen workplace protections from COVID-19, stating such was a “moral imperative.” The Order directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other agencies to take appropriate actions. Specifically, the President asks OSHA to:
- Issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic within two weeks.
- Determine whether an emergency temporary standard to address COVID-19 in the workplace is necessary and, if so, issue such a standard by March 15, 2021.
- Review OSHA’s COVID-19 enforcement efforts and identify changes that could better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement.
- Launch a national program to focus OSHA’s COVID-19 enforcement efforts on violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk or run contrary to anti-retaliation principles.
- Conduct a multilingual outreach campaign to inform workers and their representatives of their rights under the law, emphasizing communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
The order further directs OSHA to coordinate with states that have federally approved occupational safety and health plans to ensure their workers are protected from COVID-19 in accordance with newly revised federal guidance and/or emergency temporary standards.
Additionally, the order also instructs the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), to evaluate the necessity of an emergency temporary standard to address COVID-19 hazards in mining workplaces.
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The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes and to provide a general understanding of regulatory events, legislative changes and the law – not to provide specific legal advice.