Vaccinations and the Workplace

How to handle COVID-19 and vaccine requirements in the workplace is a conundrum many businesses are facing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued numerous recommendations for employee safety during the pandemic, including guidance for employers in responding to both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff. Here’s an overview of the current rules and regulations related to vaccinations and the workplace.

 Are Vaccines Required at Work?

One question that many employees are asking is whether they have to get vaccinated in order to retain their current job. Currently, there is no federal mandate for private-sector employees regarding vaccinations. However, some private-sector employers have required that their employees get vaccinated; others are strongly recommending it or have stated that there will be a vaccine requirement in the future. If you are an employee who has questions about your employer’s specific rules related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your employer directly. Your employer may have a vaccine mandate.

Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace 

Many employers are currently not mandating that their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Regardless of your employer’s specific rules, there are many OSHA guidelines related to employers’ response to COVID-19 in the workplace. These recommendations include:

  • Allow time for employees to seek a vaccine. Employers should allow their employees time off to seek a vaccine. This should be paid time off. For businesses with fewer than 500 employees, there may be tax credits available if the business provides paid time off for employees seeking the vaccination.
  • Tell workers to stay home following potential infection. If an unvaccinated worker has been potentially exposed to the virus, they should be encouraged to stay home from work to risk spreading the infection to others. Any workers who are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID should refrain from coming into the office. See current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding exposure to the coronavirus for more information. 
  • Mandate social distancing for unvaccinated workers. Workers who are unvaccinated are at a greater risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. (As a note, there may be other workers in the office who, regardless of vaccination status, are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 if they do contract the virus. In designing safety protocols, employers should consider the safety of all their employees.) Unvaccinated workers should be asked to socially distance themselves in the workplace to reduce the risk of spread. 
  • Require face coverings. Employers should encourage all workers to wear facial coverings in the workplace regardless of vaccination status. Facial coverings can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Ensure that proper safety training and education are made available. One of the most important things that employers should do is to prioritize education about the spread of the virus and the potential side effects of COVID-19. Proper training on safety protocols for facial coverings, social distances, sanitization, and other COVID-19 safety measures is also key. It is important that education and training are made available in employees’ own language. 
  • Suggest the use of face coverings for customers. Private businesses have the option of mandating facial coverings for customers. However, it is recommended that all persons wear facial coverings in the workplace, regardless of vaccination status. The new delta variant of COVID-19 is highly contagious and wearing a mask, even if you’re vaccinated, may provide additional protection against the virus, particularly when indoors.
  • Maintain strong ventilation systems. One thing that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace is a strong ventilation system. A strong ventilation system can help to reduce the concentration of particles of the virus inside. Be sure to install filters with a minimum MERV rating of 13 or higher.
  • Report COVID infections and deaths. As an employer, it is necessary that you report any COVID infections and deaths, as mandated under OSHA rules found in 29 CFR 1904. Tracking work-related cases of COVID-19 may help to track and stop the spread of the disease. Consult with a professional if you have more questions about reporting requirements. 

Learn More from OSHA Injury Lawyer Today 

Navigating the many rules regarding COVID-19, safety in the workplace, and vaccine requirements can be confusing for both employers and employees. If you have questions about the laws and recommendations regarding vaccines in the workplace, it’s important to turn to an authority on the topic. OSHA Injury Law can help to answer your questions and refer you to professionals. Contact us today and we will recommend an experienced OSHA accident attorney.

OSHA COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a series of guidelines and recommendations for keeping workers safe. While some general standards have been developed that can be applied to nearly all industries, OSHA has also developed industry-specific guidelines. Consider some of the following recommended OSHA COVID-19 safety guidelines and reach out to our law firm directly if you have questions specific to your industry or if you’ve contracted COVID-19 at work.

 Key OSHA Standards for COVID-19

Key standards for COVID-19 are found online at These standards are designed to prevent occupational exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some of the most important standards relate to the use of PPE. In general industry and construction, OSHA requires the use of:

  • Gloves
  • Eye and face protection
  • Respiratory protection (when job hazards warrant it)

If respirators are necessary, they must be used in accordance with the respiratory protection standards.

Long-term Care Facility Workers

 For workers in long-term care facilities, respiratory protection is especially important, and OSHA has designed a set of guidelines for these workers. Recommendations include:

  • Not using cloth face coverings in place of an FDA-cleared or authorized surgical mask;
  • Using a NIOSH-approved N95 FFR or equivalent or higher-level respirator when in close contact with a long-term care facility resident with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; and
  • Choosing eye and face protection that can be worn safely together, ensuring that the choice of eye and face protection does not interfere with the seal of the respirator.

Construction Workers

 OSHA recommends that construction businesses take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. These precautions include erecting plastic sheets as barriers when workers need to occupy an indoor space and are in close contact (within six feet); training and educating employees on the spread of the disease; closely following all recommended infection prevention measures; ensuring that shared spaces have good airflow; and more.

Retail Operations Workers

 Workers in retail may be at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 based on the fact that they have increased exposure with the public, and may be deemed essential workers who continue to go to work during the pandemic. This includes food retail workers. Recommendations for protecting these workers include:

  • Using physical barriers, such as plexiglass screens, when possible to separate retail workers from the general public (such as at checkout lines);
  • Providing waiting areas for customers waiting to check out that are at least six feet from the register and the retail worker;
  • Directing customers to self-checkout whenever possible to minimize contact with workers;
  • Establishing protocols for sanitation, including wiping down surfaces and credit card terminals;
  • Increasing the number of short breaks provided to retail workers during a shift in order to allow time for proper handwashing;
  • Ensuring that workers have access to adequate PPE for their jobs, which may include providing gloves, eye, and additional face protection for some workers for certain tasks.


 Guidance for COVID-19 protection and prevention for farmworkers, as indicated by OSHA, should not only consider the worksite itself, but also the workers’ housing and transportation, too. OSHA recommends:

  • Grouping workers together in small cohorts in an attempt to prevent spread;
  • Maximizing opportunities to place workers who are residing together in the same vehicles for transportation;
  • Providing basic information about the COVID-19 disease and how it is spread to workers in their own language; and
  • Creating a COVID-19 assessment and control plan in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines as well as state and local health departments.

Additionally, workers should be screened and monitored for symptoms, and workers with symptoms, including a fever, should not be allowed to enter the workplace.

Rights of Workers During COVID-19

If you are working during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have the right to workplace protections. If you have questions about the specific protections to which you are entitled, please call our OSHA Injury Attorney. COVID-19 is a very serious disease that can lead to severe complications and, in serious cases, death. If you believe that your employer is violating your rights and is failing to implement recommended safety guidelines, call an attorney immediately.

If you contract COVID-19 at work, you have certain rights. In some cases, you may have the right to workers’ compensation insurance. You cannot be retaliated against for not coming to work if you test positive for the disease. To learn more about these and other rights, call our firm. Our priority is to make sure that workers understand their rights and how to stay safe in the workplace.

OSHA Injury Attorney’s Mission

COVID-19 is scary and, for workers who are continuing to work in-person during the pandemic, there may be many questions about the risks of contracting COVID-19 and one’s rights. If you have questions, believe your employer is violating your rights, or if you have contracted COVID-19 at work, you need an OSHA injury lawyer on your side. If you have concerns about your employer’s failure to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines or if you have been injured on the job, please complete our contact form and we will forward your information to a qualified workplace injury attorney.