In relevant part, the Executive Order instructs OSHA to take the following steps:
- Within two weeks, issue revised guidance on COVID-19 workplace safety in consultation with other appropriate federal agencies;
- Consider whether emergency temporary workplace safety standards on COVID-19 are necessary, and if they are, issue them by 15 March;
- Review OSHA enforcement efforts to identify any necessary changes to better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement;
- Focus OSHA enforcement on violations that put the largest number of workers at risk of COVID-19; and
- Conduct a multilingual outreach effort to inform workers of their rights.
The Executive Order also calls on other agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Transportation, to “explore mechanisms” to protect workers that fall outside OSHA’s jurisdiction.
This Executive Order signals the potential for a significant shift in federal involvement in COVID-19 workplace safety issues. Food companies should monitor these developments closely and be prepared to assess and update their workplace safety plans quickly in light of changing federal guidance and standards.
We will continue to monitor this and other developments related to COVID-19 and the Biden transition. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
1 Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety (21 Jan. 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/21/executive-order-protecting-worker-health-and-safety/.
Authored by Brian Eyink and Mary Lancaster.