Biden Administration Orders OSHA To Take Action on COVID-19

Written January 22, 2021

Categories: AD Advocacy, CP Advocacy, DP Advocacy, DT Advocacy, First to Know, FP Advocacy, GP Advocacy, IPDAA Advocacy, SM Advocacy

In what had been promised during the campaign, President Biden acted on his first full day in office to address COVID-19 virus transmission in the workplace. On January 21, President Biden issued an Executive Order focused on OSHA’s approach to managing the COVID-19. Executive Orders are used by presidents for a variety of purposes including directing federal agencies to take certain actions. 

The Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety requires federal OSHA to take certain actions regarding its approach to issuing guidance, regulations, and enforcing existing regulations.  The Executive Order contains four key actions that need to be taken:

  • By February 4, 2021 OSHA must consult with the heads of other appropriate executive departments and agencies and update their current OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance to employers on workplace safety. The guidance needs to incorporate the best available scientific knowledge about the virus.
  • Review their existing enforcement efforts and strategies to identify any short-, medium-, and long-term changes that should be made to better protect workers.
  • Begin a COVID-19 enforcement National Emphasis Program to focus OSHA’s enforcement resources on COVID-19 related violations and anti-retaliation protection.
  • Consider whether an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, is necessary and if so, issue one by March 15, 2021.

What does this mean for the printing industry?  Actually, several things.  First, any guidance or new regulation would immediately apply to any printing operation in a state that is covered by federal OSHA. There are 22 states that are covered. The remaining states will eventually have to observe the guidance and eventually adopt OSHA’s regulation. However, some states have already adopted their own state COVID-19 regulation and they may have to revise their regulation if OSHA issues one.

Virginia, California, Oregon and Michigan have either permanent or emergency COVID-19 workplace standards in place.  In addition, New Jersey, a non-state plan state, has issued an Executive Order establishing workplace requirements as the Governor felt it was necessary due to inaction by federal OSHA. 

To determine if you are in one of the 22 states that has their own program, check this webpage.  The EO requires OSHA to ensure workers in these 22 states are adequately protected from COVID-19 and that any plans/regulations in place are consistent with any revised guidance or ETS issued by OSHA. 

PRINTING United Alliance will track the developments at OSHA and share with you any updates on revisions to guidance and regulatory activities.     Contact us at mkinter@printing.org or gjones@printing.org if you have any questions or need additional information.