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OSHA updates guidance on COVID-19

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Washington — In response to new data and updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA has updated its COVID-19 guidance in an effort to help employers protect at-risk or unvaccinated workers.

OSHA defines “at-risk workers” as anyone who has a condition such as a prior organ transplant or who uses immune-weakening medications, which can affect the body’s response to vaccines. 

Announced in an Aug. 13 press release, the updated guidance “expands information on appropriate measures for protecting workers in higher-risk workplaces with mixed vaccination status workers,” particularly in industries that often feature extended close contact between workers and/or workers and non-workers. These include manufacturing; meat, poultry and seafood processing; “high-volume” retail and grocery; and agricultural processing. 

OSHA recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks “to protect unvaccinated workers.” The agency also recommends that fully vaccinated workers who come in close contact with individuals with COVID-19 wear masks for up to 14 days, unless they have a negative test at least three to five days after contact.

 

“OSHA continues to emphasize that vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multilayered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus,” the release states. 

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