President Biden Issues Early Executive Order on COVID-19 Worker Safety
President Biden Issues Early Executive Order on COVID-19 Worker Safety

On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety that calls for a government review of worker safety standards for COVID-19.

The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Labor to issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic within two weeks. It further directs the Secretary of Labor to consider emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 and issue those standards by March 15, 2021.

The Executive Order calls for a review of enforcement efforts previously undertaken by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and to identify any changes that could be made to better protect workers and ensure equity.

Lastly, the Executive Order states that the federal government will launch a national program to focus OSHA enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk or are contrary to anti-retaliation principles. The national program will include a multilingual outreach campaign to inform workers and their representatives of their rights under applicable law.

While the Executive Order does not create any immediate new obligations for employers, it anticipates new guidance from the Department of Labor in February 2021. As we have previously discussed, California has already issued its own requirements; California’s occupational safety and health administration agency, CAL-OSHA, issued mandatory emergency COVID-19 regulations that went into effect on November 30, 2020.


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