Courtesy of FMI.
Late Friday afternoon, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated workplace guidance aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This guidance is intended to reflect the updated July 27th CDC recommendations on mask and testing recommendations for vaccinated individuals. Below, you will find some of the key changes provided by OSHA.
Key Changes:
Broadly speaking, the OSHA guidance recommends that all workers—even those fully-vaccinated—should be encouraged to wear masks in communities with “substantial or high community transition” in order to protect unvaccinated and at-risk employees. In order to determine “areas of substantial or high community transition”—OSHA has linked the CDC’s County Transmission Indicator tool, which divides counties into four separate categories of risk based off of new cases over the past seven days per 100,000 persons. In addition, OSHA recommends that all fully-vaccinated workers who have had close contact with a COVID-positive individual “…should get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure and be required to wear face coverings for 14 days after their contact unless they test negative for COVID-19.”
In the appendix of the guidance, OSHA provides supplemental recommendations for “higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers.” They denote that these industries include: manufacturing; meat, seafood, and poultry processing; high-volume retail and grocery; and agricultural processing settings. Although much of our membership has previously adopted a number of these measures earlier into the pandemic, we encourage you to go over the full list towards the end of the page. Some of these include actions such as staggering break and arrival/departure times, visual cues for social distancing, and asking customers and other visitors to consider wearing masks.
Additionally, we’d like to provide some additional context per Eric Conn of Conn Maciel Carey, LLP:
·       Encouragement of vaccines through vaccine/testing mandates: OSHA “suggests” that employers consider adopting policies that require workers to get vaccinated or, if they remain unvaccinated, to undergo regular COVID-19 testing – in addition to mask wearing and physical distancing. We think the timing of this suggestion, following the Biden Administration’s announcement of a “soft” vaccine mandate for federal workers and federal contractors, is telling. OSHA has updated its guidance to “suggest” that employers consider adopting the same kind of policy; i.e., get the vaccine or submit to weekly testing. It is hard to see a scenario where an employer is cited under the General Duty Clause for not implementing a vaccine mandate, but this new guidance at least provides an additional layer of cover for employers who do so, from the anticipated lawsuits and public criticism; i.e., we are just following OSHA’s guidance, which could effectively be mandatory under the GDC.
·       Face coverings: Employers should provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks, as appropriate, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE. In addition to unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, employers should ensure that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Employers should allow fully vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings regardless of the level of community transmission, particularly if they are at risk or have someone in their household who is at risk or not fully vaccinated. Additionally, employers should suggest or require that all customers, visitors or guests wear face coverings in public, indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Please note that while this remains guidance (and not an enforceable rule), employers are still expected to protect employees through the General Duties Clause. In March, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program that stepped up investigations into workplaces with high-risk employees. We anticipate the new administration will continue to be highly active in following up on claims of unsafe workplace conditions, particularly as they relate to COVID-19.
We know that this is a challenging time—particularly as new state and local measures continue to pop up—but if you have any questions or concerns about this guidance or other measures in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, we will continue to update members as any new developments occur.

Shane Schaefer, COO 740-815-2235 Direct number
Ohio Grocers Association |