Heads Up: Potential OSHA Emergency Standard on COVID-19

U.S. President Joe Biden on January 21 issued an Executive Order (EO) that aims to improve worker health and safety protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EO statues that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked to, among other things: issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety within two weeks; consider whether any emergency temporary standards (ETS) are necessary and, if so, issue them by March 15; and launch a national program to focus on enforcement.  It is too early to know the specifics that will flow from the EO, but should any ETS be issued, it would take effect immediately and would be in effect until superseded by a permanent standard.

For now, companies should continue to ensure workplace protections meet local or state requirements.