Biden directs OSHA to increase Covid-19 guidance

By Jenny LescohierJanuary 25, 2021

President Joe Biden issued an executive order on January 21 directing the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) to consider a national emergency temporary standard for Covid-19 in the workplace, providing contractors with a single checklist for compliance.

The measure aims to provide guidance for fighting the spread of the virus on job sites while also standardizing the reporting and tracking of people exposed to the virus at work.

The order directs OSHA to issue updated, national guidance on workplace safety for Covid-19 within two weeks. It also directed the agency to revisit issuing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers from Covid-19, including whether masks should be worn at work, a step OSHA declined to take under the Trump administration.

A nationwide ETS would give contractors one, clearly defined set of rules for Covid-19 compliance, as opposed to the collection of local, state and federal rules currently in effect. The standard, mandatory and enforceable by OSHA, would need to be implemented by March 15.

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