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Everything’s bigger in Texas—including workforce safety and compliance risks. Between the region’s hot climate, large number of businesses, and concentration of hazardous industries, employers in the Lone Star State face myriad operational issues and compliance concerns. 

Don’t put your business at risk of penalties, lawsuits, increased insurance expenses, and the other expenses that follow in the wake of avoidable safety incidents. Keep your people safe, remain on the right side of the law, and stay ahead of the competition with KPA’s EHS and workforce compliance resources.

Texas COVID-19 State Regulations

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how to operate safely during the pandemic. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Texas Bans Businesses from Vaccine Passports

Effective immediately, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB968, on June 7, 2021, to prevent businesses from requiring customers have COVID-19 vaccinations or proof of vaccination, or else they won’t become eligible for state contracts and could lose state-held licenses or operating permits.

Businesses may still screen for COVID-19 and use infection control measures that comply with state and federal law.

Government agencies may not issues vaccine passports or other state documentation regarding a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status for anything other than the purpose of health care.

What Should You Do?

  • Review your current policies and procedures and update them to comply with the current law.
  • Consult with your legal counsel regarding any changes you make to your vaccination documentation policies and procedures.

Additional Resources

SB 968

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Executive Orders & Public Health Disaster Declaration

UPDATED 3/3/21: Face Covering Mandate Lifted

On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34, lifting the state’s face covering mandate and business and facility occupancy restrictions starting on March 10, 2021.  At that time occupancy rates can also increase to 100%.

Businesses may continue to require masks on business property, limit occupancy, and enforce other health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If hospitalizations increase above 15%, county officials may enforce pandemic response strategies to limit the spread of the virus, but there will be no state-imposed restrictions.

What Should Employers Do?

  • Conduct a hazards assessment program to evaluate the risk of your employees of exposure.
  • Determine if you will require masks, occupancy restrictions or other measures.
  • Develop and executive a communications plan for your employees and customers to set expectations with everyone.
  • Evaluate your COVID-19 or pandemic response program and employee training against Executive Order GA-34’s guidance.
  • Consult with your legal counsel and review your plan with them.

Additional Resources

NEW: Executive Order No. GA-34

Executive Order GA-29

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Executive Orders & Public Health Disaster Declaration

Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)

GA-29 Exemption Form

Texas Minimum Recommended Health Protocols

HR and Workplace Compliance Regulations

September 1: Texas Expands Its Anti-harassment Law

Who: Texas employers

When: Effective September 1, 2021

What: On June 9, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 21, which increases the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims filed based on conduct that occurs on or after September 1, 2021 from 180 days to 300 days. Practically speaking, that change means plaintiffs can file in either state court or federal court as long as they file within the 300-day limit.

As of May 30, 2021, Senate Bill 45 added section 21.141 to the Texas Labor Code. It redefines “employer” from one with 15 or more employees to one with one or more employees. It also defines “employer” as one who “acts directly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee,” which could be interpreted as a supervisor, coworker, customer, vendor, contractor, or other third party. Those individuals could be held personally liable for perpetrating sexual harassment or failing to stop it.

Senate Bill 45 also states that, in order to avoid liability, employers must take “immediate and appropriate corrective action” to stop sexual harassment they know is happening or should have known was happening.

Employers’ policies should define prohibited conduct and describe the procedure for reporting concerns. Policies should include a statement that employees will not be retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment or participating in a related investigation.


  • Provide anti-harassment training for all employees.
  • Implement new anti-harassment policies, practices, and procedures, or update your existing ones, to comply with the new laws.
  • Train supervisors and other employees as necessary on how to identify and take action on observed or reported sexual harassment.

Additional Resources:

HB 21

SB 45

September 1: Texas Legalizes Unlicensed Open Carry of Handguns

Who: Texas employers

When: Effective September 1, 2021

What: On June 16, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1927, the “Firearm Carry Act of 2021,” into law, thus allowing persons 21 years of age or older to conceal or openly carry a handgun without a government-issued permit or license. The new law does not apply to individuals who are prohibited by state or federal law from possessing that firearm. Individuals are still prohibited from carrying a firearm in bars, amateur sporting events, prisons, correctional facilities, and amusement parks, among other public places.

Texas Labor Code section 52.062(b) remains in effect, which gives employers the right to disallow employees from possessing a firearm on their premises. Premises is defined as buildings and parts of buildings, but not parking lots or garages, driveways, or sidewalks. An employee may keep a firearm in their own private, locked vehicle that is parked on company property.


  • Consider sending a communication to employees that describes the new Act and its limitations and reminds them of your firearms policies.
  • Consider posting notices at employee entrances regarding your firearms policies.

Additional Resources:

HB 1927

Texas Labor Code section 52.062(b)

Effective Immediately: Texas State Court Rules Intention to Become Pregnant is Protected Under Anti-Discrimination

Who: Texas employers

When: Effective immediately

What: The Texas Court of Appeals ruled on a case that involved a woman who claimed she had been disciplined, harassed, and terminated because she had announced her intention to become pregnant. The Court ruled that the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) protects not only those who are pregnant, but those who announce their intention to become pregnant. The Court looked to the Federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the decisions that federal courts have already made on this issue for guidance when coming to a decision.


  • Review your existing anti-discrimination policies to ensure they are in accordance with the ruling.
  • Update your HR manual as necessary.
  • Inform your managers, supervisors, and HR personnel of the ruling.

Additional Resources:

South Texas College v. Arriola Ruling


Texas Top OSHA Workforce Health and Safety Issues

OSHA citations. They’re rampant, they hide in plain sight, and they have potentially dire consequences for your people and your bottom line. Is your organization doing enough to avoid the most common OSHA citations?
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