- In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss OSHA’s new COVID-19 protection guidance document – and what it means to your business. [Read more].
- The news OSHA guidance is “intended to informemployers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement for protecting workers” called Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.
- The FDA “has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on an import alert to help stop products that may be in violation from entering the U.S. until the agency is able to review the products’ safety. The agency has seen a significant number of hand sanitizer products from Mexico that were labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but tested positive for methanol contamination or 1-propanol.” Read more here.
- Click here to access FDA’s list of unapproved hand sanitizers in addition to tips for consumers for what to look out for when purchasing hand sanitizers.
- Although US COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped, January has seen the highest rise in COVID-19-related deaths
- Winter storms are causing disruptions to vaccinations across the U.S. Northeast.
- AstraZeneca’s vaccine will move forward in the E.U. with the drug-company supplying “an additional nine million [doses] by March.”
Recommendations for Industry
What OSHA’s New COVID-19 Guidance Means to You
On Friday, OSHA published a new guidance document, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which is intended to help employers and workers identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and determine appropriate control measures. As with all guidance, it is not regulation; rather it contains advisory recommendations focused toward employers’ “obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace,” along with descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards.
In our review of the guidance, TAG saw little that has not been included in our ongoing recommendations for business. Noting the high transmissibility of the virus by even those with no symptoms, OSHA put a strong focus on the need for face coverings and the implementation of COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace to include conducting a hazard assessment; identifying measures to limit spread; adopting measures to separate and send home those who are infected or potentially infected; and implementing protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19 related concerns.
Some areas of the guidance that did stand out to TAG include the following elements that OSHA recommend be in a workplace COVID-19 prevention program:
- Do not differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated workers when it comes to protective measures. All should continue to wear face coverings and remain physically distant, as there is no evidence that the vaccines prevent transmission.
- Make a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees. Provide information and training on the benefits and safety of vaccinations.
- Record and report work-related COVID-19 infections and deaths as required by OSHA (in 29 CFR 1904). Employers should also report outbreaks to health departments as required and support their contact tracing efforts.
An additional area that TAG sees as critically important, but is listed as simply one of a combination of measures to help limit spread, is that of ventilation. When one reads further in the document, there is some good information on Improving Ventilation, which TAG highly recommends all businesses review and consider.
This is particularly important now – as the new variants continue to spread, it’s a great time to look at air-handling and ventilation again.
In Case You Missed It
- Today, we discuss Determining Your Employee Vaccination Strategy in the Recommendations for Industry.
- The first two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant (B.1.351) have been detected in the United States, specifically South Carolina. Both individuals are “in different regions of the state and do not appear to be connected.” Neither were known to have traveled recently.
- Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine demonstrates 72% efficacy in the U.S.; however, its efficacy dropped to 57% in South Africa where the 501Y.V2 strain of COVID-19 has fueled a second COVID wave.
- In United Kingdom trials, Novavax’s vaccine shows 89% efficacy. A small study in South Africa indicates this vaccine may be less effective against the South African variant
- In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, Germany is pushing to install a travel ban from UK, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa.
- This week, China began testing for COVID-19 through anal swabs, citing it as a more accurate method for determining COVID-19 presence.
- Mexico’s COVID-19 death toll has exceeded that of India’s. Mexico now has the third-highest death toll in the world.
- On Thursday, The White House released a new Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which outlines actions the federal government must take to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. Actions include “partnering with state and local governments to better protect public employees; enforcing worker health and safety requirements; and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees.”