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Biden orders OSHA to release new COVID-19 guidance to employers on protecting workers

Biden orders OSHA to release new COVID-19 guidance to employers on protecting workers
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President BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE signed an executive order on Thursday directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue guidance to employers on protecting workers from COVID-19.

The executive order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety requires OSHA to release guidance within two weeks to employers on workplace safety during the pandemic and to evaluate whether any emergency temporary standards are needed.

The agency has until March 15 to issue emergency standards, which could include mask-wearing in the work place.

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The order also requires a review of OSHA’s enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 and requires the administration to identify what changes could be made to protect workers. 

Biden’s order also directs the Labor Department to work with the Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, and Health and Human Services departments to explore ways to protect other classes of workers. It asks the Mine Safety and Health Administration to explore emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 for coal and metal or non-metal mines.

In the order, Biden wrote that “ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative.”

“Healthcare workers and other essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line” during the pandemic.

The order marks a shift from the Trump administration, under which OSHA was criticized for its oversight and reporting requirements for COVID-19 cases, The Washington Post notes.