The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the “Act”) to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” Although OSHA sets and enforces the standards established under the Act, employers are responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for employees. The Act covers most private sector employers and employees, as well as some public sector employers and employees.
President Biden’s Executive Order
On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order declaring that ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. This Order directed OSHA to act to reduce COVID-19 risks to employees. On June 10, 2021, OSHA announced that it would issue an emergency temporary standard to specifically protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19 and also updated guidance for the protection of unvaccinated workers.
Emergency Temporary Standard & Updated Guidance
The emergency temporary standard establishes new requirements for work environments where employees provide healthcare or other related services to individuals, with exceptions for healthcare providers that screen outpatients who might have COVID-19.
The standard is aimed at protecting employees that encounter the highest COVID-19 hazards, specifically those engaged in healthcare settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. This includes but is not limited to employees in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, emergency responders, home health care workers, and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients receive treatment.
In addition to the above-noted standard, OSHA is also issuing updated guidance to protect unvaccinated workers. Specifically, the updated guidance focuses on industries that are known for prolonged close contact, including but not limited to meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery, and high-volume retail.
Aggressively Defending the Rights of Employees in Birmingham
If you feel your employment rights have been violated, or if you have any other questions regarding your rights under the law, then please contact our experienced employment law attorneys at Michel | King to discuss what we can do to help you obtain the justice you deserve.
You can contact our law firm either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880 to set up your case consultation. We are here to serve you.