OSHA is expected to play a prominent role under the incoming Biden administration. How are you staying ahead of potential regulatory changes?
In recent months, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been inundated with workplace complaints connected to COVID-19. The big question many employers find themselves dealing with is how to safely minimize the risks and ramifications of COVID-19 infection among employees and their workforce. Balancing reopening and returning to a new normalcy with the vaccine rollouts require a comprehensive top to bottom plan.
Once the Biden Administration takes office, serious measures to conduct a safe workplace are expected to quickly roll out. The new administration's first priority will be having OSHA issue an emergency temporary standard that requires employers to protect workers from on-the-job exposure to COVID-19 infection. During his campaign, Biden promised to hire more OSHA inspectors - potentially doubling the number - and given his close ties to labor, this will be a first step in halting the heavy deregulation which the Trump administration focused on.
The new expected federal regulation will very likely closely resemble California's own recent emergency temporary standard. Effective January 1, 2021, Cal-Osha Ab-685 enacts the strictest measures nationwide to date. The mandate allows for Orders Prohibiting Use and citations for violations related to COVID-19 to be more quickly issued. California OSHA chief, Doug Parker, is part of Biden's transition team, suggesting that the national plan is modeled after California's is likely, and expected. California's rule imposes standards on all employers instead of allowing them to assess their level of risk.
Based on Ab-685, potential guidelines the federal mandate may include:
● Companies must provide information regarding COVID-19-related time off for quarantining and/or recovery as well as sick leave
● Companies must Inform all employees regarding any disinfection and/or safety plan per CDC guidelines.
● Business and enterprise much hold onto these records for at least three years
● Tools for employee distancing, placement of employees in very limited numbers and work from home options when available.
● Employee safety and health training.
● Heightened contact tracing - for example exposed employees must be contacted within one business day. Companies must provide detailed notices to their employees and their subcontractors when there is a COVID-19 infection detected in the workplace.
● Companies must also notify local public health departments about outbreaks.
● Companies must provide employees with information regarding any COVID-19-related benefits under federal, state, or local law.
"It is critical to use data to mitigate workplace risk and find ways to keep employees in low-risk environments in the office," says Michael Gao, M.D., CEO of Haven Diagnostics.
In 2020, Haven adapted agent-based models to help employers measure in-office COVID-19 risk, align their executives, and communicate it to their employees. Their medical analytics platform helps people make data-driven decisions on returning to the office. Led by renowned Physicians, Data Scientists, and Medical Researchers, the company can provide science-backed data for workplace risk management and return to work decisions.
Future OSHA standards will focus on on-going health risk concerns in the workplace. With a key focus on the areas of communication, safety, logistics, and health, Haven is the perfect partner for enterprises looking to uphold safety standards during COVID-19 and remaining proactive for future pandemic risks.