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Federal COVID-19

Stronger guidance issued for protecting the workplace

On January 29, the agency issued stronger workplace guidance on the coronavirus. "Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace" provides updated guidance and recommendations and outlines existing safety and health standards for non-healthcare work settings. The new guidance sets out 16 elements that should be in a COVID-19 protection program, outlines when workers need to quarantine and for how long, isolating workers who have or likely have COVID-19, how to implement physical distancing in communal areas, and the importance of face coverings, improving ventilation, PPE, and enhanced cleaning.

It also addresses testing strategies, noting "a worker who has recovered from symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19 may continue to test positive for three months or more without being contagious to others. For this reason, these workers should be tested only if they develop new symptoms of possible COVID-19."

The guidelines call for employers to consider protections and "reasonable accommodations" for workers at a higher risk of severe illness, naming "older adults" and workers with "underlying health conditions" as among those who may need modifications. Further, it calls on employers to cover employee vaccinations for COVID-19 and to not distinguish between workers who are vaccinated and those who are not.

New public service announcements

New public service announcements in English and Spanish aim to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.

Tips on transporting and storing COVID-19 vaccines

Guidance provides tips to protect workers transporting and storing COVID-19 vaccines.

Federal Non-COVID-19

Cost-of-living hikes for violations went into effect January 15

Maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations increased to $13,653 from $13,494, and maximum penalties for willful or repeated violations increased to $136,532 from $134,937.

Injury reporting data for certain establishments is due March 2

March 2 is the deadline for establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses to submit the Form 300A electronically to OSHA, using the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) on OSHA's website.

You must electronically submit the data if you are required to do so. There are exceptions, so it's important to review the criteria to determine if you must submit.

OSHA has ramped up its efforts to ensure compliance with the rule and targets non-responders in its Site-Specific Targeting Program (SST). SST inspections are daunting, comprehensive, wall-to-wall inspections. With civil penalties for OSHA penalties now topping out well into the six-figure range, employers must do all they can to ensure compliance with safety data recordkeeping and reporting.

New debt collection initiative

The Department of Labor changed its rules to help improve collection efforts and OSHA is implementing a series of three penalty payment letters to be sent seven, 30, and 60 days after an establishment fails to timely pay a penalty based on a final order. The agency also will contact establishments by phone 14 days after the payment comes due.

If an establishment fails to make a civil monetary penalty payment from an inspection resulting in a citation and is not on an affordable payment plan, they will be placed on a priority list for further inspection and compliance safety and health officers will gather employer identification numbers (EIN) as part of the pre-inspection preparation.

Michigan OSHA

Emphasis program on silica launched

The 12-month emphasis program includes outreach to affected industries to consult, educate and train employers and the public about the dangers of silica. Establishments on a list of industries with historically high silica exposures and a prevalence of silicosis cases could get an unannounced investigation visit to ensure compliance with federal and MIOSHA standards. The goal is to complete 88 inspections.

Virginia OSHA

Virginia becomes first state to have a permanent COVID-19 Safety and Health Standard

On Jan. 12, 2021, the Safety and Health Codes Board voted 9-4 to approve a permanent safety and health standard requiring employers to take steps to protect workers from COVID-19. While the standard largely mirrors the temporary standard that was adopted in July, it does include these changes among others:

Recent fines and awards
COVID-19-related citations


As of December 31, 2020, the agency had issued $3.9 million in coronavirus-related fines following more than 300 workplace inspections since the start of the pandemic. A list of all coronavirus-related issued citations can be found here.


As of Jan 25, 19 companies were fined over $366,000 since Jan. 1 for violations related to COVID-19, including health care facilities, a real estate office, a garden center, supermarkets, retail establishments, restaurants, UPS, a fish and seafood wholesaler, and a prison. For all COVID-19 related citations


Since the start of the pandemic, 84 companies have been cited under the General Duty Clause for COVID-19 related violations, with fines ranging from $0 to $16,800. For a complete list of citations

Non-COVID-19-related citations







New York

North Carolina