OSHA Clarifies that Vaccinated Workers Must Still Mask Up!

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released updated guidance clarifying that workers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine should still wear masks and practice sanitization and social distancing.  This is partially because we do not have comprehensive data on how vaccines affect transmission of the virus.  It is possible that someone vaccinated against COVID-19 can still be a carrier and transmit the virus to others.

The guidance therefore emphasizes that regardless of employees’ vaccination status, employers should continue to follow existing protocols for COVID-19 prevention by conducting a hazard assessment; identifying a combination of measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace; and adopting measures to ensure that workers who are infected or potentially infected are separated and sent home from the workplace, among other things.

The OSHA guidance also puts the onus on employers to ensure that workers are not retaliated against for raising concerns about workplace safety.  It recommends that employers establish a process for workers to share concerns anonymously.

The guidance and other important resources, including industry-specific guidance, are available here:  https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework

By Jolene Kramer | February 19, 2021

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