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Balch’s Tashwanda Pinchback Dixon, partner in the Labor & Employment Practice, spoke with Bloomberg Law on OSHA’s emergency rule originally released on June 17, 2021 to protect healthcare workers from Covid-19.
OSHA recently issued updated guidance on Aug. 13, 2021 to healthcare employers designed to help them protect workers who are unvaccinated or those who are vaccinated but in areas of high Covid-19 transmission. The guidance recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial Covid-19 transmission wear masks to protect unvaccinated workers, recommends workers who’ve been exposed to the virus wear masks for up to 14 days, and clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated worker.
In speaking to Bloomberg Law, Tashwanda said that she believes the emergency temporary standard provides the guidance needed to assist employers that have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Tashwanda's advice to employers:
I’d treat all employees as if they were unvaccinated and develop procedures along those lines.
Tashwanda said she refers employers to OSHA’s January 2021 guidance which was subsequently updated in June, adding, “Generally, I think it’s a thorough guidance” that predates the delta variant. “Most of my clients that had essential workers or brought them back in 2020 already put together procedures and a plan on how to isolate,” she said. “All of that is relevant even now.”
Tashwanda is a trial lawyer who has successfully resolved a wide variety of labor and employment disputes as well as providing employment counseling and crisis management assistance. Tashwanda represents management in both union and nonunion settings in the litigation of federal and state employment and labor law claims, with a particular focus on workplace OSHA.