OSHA Issues Guidance on Returning to Offices After Shutdowns

Disaster Response

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) late last week issued guidance to assist employers reopening business offices and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance provides general principles for easing restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus through the use of phased reopenings. During each phase of the process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

NAHB members are reminded to check with their state and local officials on occupancy and other restrictions. OSHA notes that the guidance is supplemental to guidance from the CDC and White House, and that all local and state orders should be followed before reopening begins.

The new guidance from OSHA recommends the following reopening phases:

  • Phase 1: Businesses should consider making telework available, when possible and feasible with business operations. For employees who return to the workplace, consider limiting the number of people in the workplace in order to maintain strict social distancing practices. Where feasible, accommodations (i.e., flexibilities based on individual needs) should be considered for workers at higher risk of severe illness, including elderly individuals and those with serious underlying health conditions. Non-essential business travel should be limited.
  • Phase 2: Businesses continue to make telework available where possible, but non-essential business travel can resume. Limitations on the number of people in the workplace can be eased, but continue to maintain moderate to strict social distancing practices, depending on the type of business. Continue to accommodate vulnerable workers as identified above in Phase 1.
  • Phase 3: Businesses resume unrestricted staffing of work sites.

Home builders and other construction companies also recently received some additional clarification on a recent rule regarding temperature screenings. At the request of NAHB and construction safety partners, OSHA on Friday clarified that temperature screenings required to let some workers into job sites are not medical records under its recordkeeping rules.

While there are sure to be more developments during the ongoing pandemic, for now, home builders and other businesses have definitive blueprints to resuming normal business operations. For any questions on OSHA safety regulations, visit the nahb.org.

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