Changes to OSHA Under COVID-19 and the Biden Administration

by | 15 Feb, 2021

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As a new administration takes office, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on. Despite the encouraging development of vaccines and their dispersal to frontline workers and the elderly, continuing efforts are being made to control the spread of the virus. Notably, the new administration has recently issued an executive order regarding OSHA standards in the workplace related to COVID-19.

In a statement released by the White House, they wrote that “The Federal Government must take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.” The statement continues, explaining “That will require issuing science-based guidance to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure, including with respect to mask-wearing; partnering with State and local governments to better protect public employees; enforcing worker health and safety requirements; and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees.”

Section 2 of the statement explained further guidance for protecting workers from COVID-19 under OSHA. An important piece of the executive order was a directive from President Biden to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release revised workplace guidance by March 15, something the National Nurses United nurses union has been asking for.

Acting administrator of OSHA, Jim Frederick, said this move by President Biden is an encouraging step but shouldn’t be the end of the discussion.

“The guidance issued today is the first step in the process, but it’s certainly not the last step in that process,” he said.

Some of the updated guidance by OSHA will be replacing language that comes across as suggestive with language that is more direct.

Additionally in the executive order is a place to “launch a national program to focus OSHA enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk or are contrary to anti-retaliation principles.” Ideally, this could help incentivize employers to implement and enforce any OSHA guidelines and emergency temporary standards.

The executive order also identifies the administration’s plan to “coordinate … a multilingual outreach campaign to inform workers and their representatives of their rights under applicable law.” They also plan to place “special emphasis” on those areas and communities that have been most affected by the pandemic. Frederick went on to say that OSHA is working on a potential emergency temporary standard and what that would include. As workers continue to put their lives on the line, more information will be released about OSHA standards and hopefully there will be more progress in protecting essential employees.

How Navigate PEO can help

Meeting compliance in an ever-changing world is no easy feat. Lucky for you, HR compliance is a key service offering of ours.

In addition, if you haven’t started offering benefits to your employees, Navigate PEO can get you started. We help small and medium-sized companies afford to offer competitive benefits to employees such as major medical plans, life insurance, dental and vision insurance, EAPs, and more as well as helping your business manage those benefits, keeping track of compliance documents, and helping your HR department run smoothly. Take a look at our Human Resources Services page to see more of what we offer.

Get in touch to see what we can do for your organization today.


Tom DiSilva
Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design. . He is an active member of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), Professional Association of Co-Employers (PACE), and The American Payroll Association (APA). He is deeply committed to giving back to the community both personally and through Navigate Cares, which provides support for several nonprofit organizations such as the USO, The Boys & Girls Club, and the 3Point Foundation.

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