The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has released new guidance for employers and workers designed to help identify risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and to help determine appropriate control measures to implement. The guidance states that employers should implement COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace to mitigate exposure risks including several elements such as:
- conducting a COVID-19 workplace hazard assessment;
- ensuring that infected or potentially infected workers are separated and sent home from the workplace;
- communicating COVID-19 policies and procedures to both English- and non-English-speaking workers; and
- explaining that face coverings and social distancing remain important practices for vaccinated workers.
Each of these elements, as well as other protective measures, is discussed in detail in the guidance. Like other OSHA guidance published in the last year, this guidance is not mandatory and creates no new legal obligations. However, OSHA has considered an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards and guidance when determining whether to cite a violation. This guidance is likely the first step toward increasingly detailed and possibly mandatory requirements by OSHA to address COVID-19 in the workplace. Dealerships should have already taken many of the steps in the guidance to ensure the safety of their employees and customers, but should review it for ways to strengthen their current workplace safety programs.
Many states have OSHA-approved plans with health and safety standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA’s but with different or more stringent mandates. Most states and many local governments have instituted emergency COVID-19-related measures and have imposed stricter or different employment laws applicable to dealership operations. State and metro dealership associations can provide specifics on these state and local requirements. For more information, see NADA’s Coronavirus Hub, including FAQs: Dealership Health and Safety Concerns During a Pandemic, or contact NADA Regulatory Affairs at [email protected].