Are you feeling sick and tired of the COVID-19 pandemic? Have you struggled to make work safe for your employees? If so, you should consider Biden’s plan for COVID.
While there are many parts, one of his executive orders outlines how OSHA can enforce a safe workplace. Whether you have a small or big company, you should know how it can affect your business.
Keep reading to learn more about the plan.
When considering Biden’s plan for COVID, it’s important to consider the policy from the Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. Section 1 of the order outlines how OSHA and the government will enforce its regulations on employers.
Moving forward, companies need to take more serious actions to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Government will partner with state and local governments to protect employees, and it will push for resources to help employers protect employees.
Section 2 of the executive order focuses on how OSHA regulations relate to Biden’s plan for COVID. The Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health will manage OSHA’s role.
Those positions will work to protect workers in all industries, such as healthcare, during the pandemic. Consider some of the specifics of the executive order.
Setting New Guidelines
After the order, the Labor Secretary had two weeks to issue new OSHA regulations to employers on workplace safety. The Secretary needed to work with other agency and department heads to consult on the new rules.
These new rules should help employers and employees stay safe when working during the pandemic. Employers now need to implement the new guidelines in the workplace.
Review Emergency Standards
Another part of the order requires the Secretary to review workplace standards. If the Secretary determines that temporary standards are necessary for masks and other protective measures, they should issue them by March 15, 2021.
And if the Secretary doesn’t deem emergency standards necessary, they don’t have to issue them. However, employers may still need to implement their own standards to follow Biden’s plan for COVID.
OSHA already has procedures to investigate and fine employers who don’t follow OSHA regulations. Under the Biden COVID plan, the Secretary of Labor should review any necessary changes to improve worker protection.
The review should consider changes for the short-term and long-term. Any changes should also help ensure equity when it comes to enforcing the rules.
Protect More Workers
Another important part of the COVID plan is to focus OSHA enforcement on bloodborne pathogens exposure violations that affect more workers at serious risk. The enforcement efforts should also protect workers when employers violate anti-retaliation principles.
This program will be nationwide and will focus on protecting more workers from COVID-19 when on the job. It will protect employees at work but also employees who report a violation to OSHA.
Work With Other Agencies
Under this section of Biden’s executive order, the Secretary of Labor should also work with OSHA offices and various offices in the Department of Labor. The offices should conduct an outreach campaign to educate workers on their rights under the law. This campaign should be in multiple languages so that more employees can learn their rights.
Offices should also work with labor unions and community organizations to enforce OSHA rules and regulations. They should also make sure to spend time with communities that have suffered the most during the pandemic.
Protecting Other Workers
While the previous section is primarily to protect frontline workers, Biden’s COVID plan also considers other workers and protects them. The Secretary of Labor should work with the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
Here’s how this section can affect employers and employees during the pandemic.
The Secretary should work with states that already have safety and health plans that follow OSHA regulations. These states should ensure workers that the plans cover have sufficient protection from COVID-19.
All of these plans should also follow new guidelines and temporary standards from OSHA. That way, the employees in those states can remain safe on the job.
Work With Other States
If a state or city doesn’t have a plan that follows OSHA regulations, the Secretary will also work with those states. This time, they will consult with state and local governments. They will make sure the government will protect public employees.
The plan will help workers in all states, and public employers should work with the Secretary of Labor to ensure a safe workplace for all. While it doesn’t specifically protect private-sector workers, Biden does have a plan for some of them.
Expand Protection Efforts
In regular times, OSHA doesn’t protect self-employed people or relatives working on family farms. However, Biden’s plan for COVID includes exploring ways to protect those workers during the pandemic.
The Secretaries of Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, and others should consult with agency heads. Then, they can determine a plan to protect these other workers while at work even though OSHA doesn’t typically protect them.
Regarding Coal and Mine Workers
Employees working in coal mines and other mines may also receive protection through Biden’s plan. The Secretary of Labor should work with the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
They will consider if they need to apply emergency temporary standards for COVID-19 to workers in mines. If they determine they need to apply standards, they should issue them as soon as they can to protect these employees.
The last section of Biden’s executive order covers general provisions. These provisions relate to the rest of the executive order, and they outline how the act can affect the enforcement of the law.
Here are a few important parts of this section and how they affect employers.
Department and Agency Authority
Section 4 says that the order shouldn’t impair department or agency authority. OSHA still has the right to enforce other violations, even if they aren’t part of the new COVID guidelines.
Other departments and agencies retain their usual roles and authorities. Because of this, employers need to follow the same rules and regulations in general and specific to individual industries.
The order also doesn’t affect what the Director of the Office of Management and Budget can do regarding budgetary proposals. That director also doesn’t have to change their authority to make legislative or administrative proposals.
Employers will still need to follow any laws that Congress or the President passes. If you have employees, you should stay up to date with Biden’s plan for COVID to make sure you are in compliance.
Must Follow Applicable Law
The executive order states it needs to follow applicable law. It is also subject to the availability of appropriations.
Employers throughout the US need to follow the order as it applies to the law. If you don’t you could violate OSHA regulations and face a penalty.
How Employers Can Comply
The executive order is just a start to Biden’s plan for COVID, but it’s important for employers to consider. As the pandemic continues, employers need to make sure employees are safe.
While some companies can move to working remotely, some can’t. If your employees have to report in person to work, you should do what you can to protect them, regardless of OSHA rules and regulations.
Still, here are a couple of things you can do to make sure you at least meet OSHA standards.
Throughout the pandemic, regulations have changed, and employers have had to adapt. Because the pandemic is still a threat, there may be more changes and updates in the next few months.
Employers should follow these updates from OSHA, the President, and state and local governments. Then, companies can revise and implement policies that keep workers safe and follow the law.
Review the Workplace
As you learn of updates to COVID rules, you should review the workplace. Consider if you are already complying with the new guidelines or if you need to change them accordingly.
If you do need to change things, make sure you outline the changes for your employees. Then, they can have a record of what to do while at work. Review your workplace any time there are changes or each month to make sure employees are still following the rules.
Consider Going Remote
While remote work isn’t possible for workers in healthcare and similar fields, it is an option for many companies. If your employees can work remotely, consider having some do so until it is safer.
When you have fewer employees in the office, you won’t have to worry as much about people following guidelines. It will be easier for people to work farther apart, and you can still have people be productive when working from home.