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President Biden Focuses on COVID-19 Safety in the Workplace

January 28, 2021

On January 21, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) calling on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue revised COVID-19 guidance to employers by February 4. In addition to issuing revised guidance, OSHA must consider if an emergency temporary standard (ETS) is necessary, including the necessity for masks in the workplace. If an ETS is deemed necessary—which AGC expects OSHA to do—the agency must issue the standard by March 15. The EO further directs OSHA to launch a national emphasis program (NEP) to focus enforcement efforts on COVID-19 violations in workplaces that place large numbers of workers at risk and to respond to any retaliatory practices undertaken by employers, work with state OSHA plans to ensure that workers in those states are equally protected consistent with OSHA’s guidance and ETS, and to conduct outreach campaigns to inform workers of their rights. In addition, the EO puts forth a similar process for a COVID-19 ETS to be considered and issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) as soon as practicable. AGC is engaging with these agencies to ensure the construction industries’ concerns are addressed.

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