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US Department of Labor COVID-19 Update

US Department of Labor

U.S. Department of Labor | January 29, 2021

US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus

New OSHA guidance seeks to mitigate, prevent viral spread in the workplace

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and
Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a
coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last
week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from
COVID-19 exposure.

“Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace”
provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is
providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.
“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of
this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing
themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M.
Patricia Smith. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen
our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our

Implementing a coronavirus protection program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The
guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:
– Conduct a hazard assessment.
– Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
– Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially
infected workers to remain home.
– Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English
speaking workers.
– Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

“OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker
protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working,” said Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially
infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using
surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment,
improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department’s Reasonable Accommodation
Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For
alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
OSHA will update today’s guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.
This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains
recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The
recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in
recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to
provide a safe and healthful workplace.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and
healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s
working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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