With COVID-19 vaccines readily available and new cases declining, federal guidance on how to keep employees safe and healthy is changing.
Guidelines for employers differ based on whether:
- All employees are vaccinated
- Only some employees are vaccinated
- The organization is a health care operation
Health and safety recommendations when all employees are vaccinated
If you are an employer in an industry other than health care or public transportation and 100% of your employees are vaccinated, you can follow the Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These recommendations state that you no longer need to take special precautions such as masks and social distancing in a workplace or well-defined portion of a workplace where all employees are fully vaccinated. If there are any unvaccinated or otherwise “at-risk” workers in the workplace, employers should still take steps to protect them from COVID-19.
Keeping employees safe when some are unvaccinated or at risk
Many employers have some employees who are unvaccinated or “at-risk” due to a condition that can make vaccination less effective. If this is your situation, and you are not in the health care or public transportation industry, refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace . The guidance includes requiring physical distancing in communal areas and providing face coverings for unvaccinated and “at-risk” workers, among other safety measures. See the Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19 section for specific steps you can take.
Health care employers have specific requirements
Employers in the health care industry fall under the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard .
The key requirements of the emergency temporary standard include:
- Developing and implementing a COVID-19 plan, including designating a safety coordinator with authority to ensure compliance.
- Conducting patient screening and management to limit and monitor points of entry to settings where direct patient care is provided.
- Developing and implementing policies and procedures to adhere to standard and transmission-based precautions based on CDC guidelines, including personal protective equipment, physical distancing, physical barriers, cleaning and disinfection, and ventilation.
- Doing health screening and medical management of employees.
- Providing paid leave for COVID-19 vaccinations and recovery from side effects.
- Training employees on COVID-19 transmission, situations that can result in infections, and relevant policies and procedures.
Workplace safety and health standards continue to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and more information becomes available. Check in often to make sure you’re aware of the latest developments.