The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance and standards relating to employee safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. These documents outline the most commonly cited issues during inspections since the pandemic began in March of 2020, and provides insight on how employers should be protecting their workers. Here, the employment law attorneys at Eccleston & Wolf discuss standards that businesses should consider implementing for their employees, and to remain compliant going forward.
OSHA’s COVID-19 Regulations & Employer Compliance Inspections
The coronavirus pandemic has altered the lives of millions of individuals and businesses. With safety at the forefront, employers must take the time to adjust their daily business practices to prioritize the health and safety of each employee. OSHA’s COVID-19 citation document outlines the most frequently cited issues during inspections for various industries, including, but not limited to, hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long term care settings, and meat/poultry processing facilities. Some of the most common citations given to employers of all sizes relate to medical evaluations, respiratory protection programs, employee training and hazard assessment. Through the end of October 2020, OSHA had completed 179 inspections for COVID-19 related violations, approaching $2.5 million in fines and penalties. These violations can severely harm your business, leading to financial strain and additional workplace requirements.
Several Employers Failed to Enact Proper Training & Preventative Protocols
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your management and stakeholders have strategized comprehensive COVID-19 procedures and training for all employees. If you have not done so, your business may face fines or other legal repercussions due to lack of compliance. In many of these violation cases, employers did not (i) obtain proper fitting respiratory protection devices for their employees, (ii) enact an administrator to oversee a respiratory protection program nor create a worksite-specific procedures list for any instances of potential employee harm, and/or (iii) notify OSHA of fatalities that occurred on the job site, or keep records of any deaths or injuries within the workplace.
OSHA Enacts COVID-19 Enforcement Response Plan for 2020-2021 Year
In May of 2020, OSHA issued a coronavirus response plan for the remainder of 2020 and into the new year, in which they made eliminating hazards due to COVID-19 a top priority for the agency. Within this, OSHA updated their recording requirements to have certain employers accurately document cases of COVID-19 if the case is confirmed, the case is work-related (as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5) and the case involves one or more of the general criteria of additional medical treatment besides first aid, days away from work, etc. State-specific COVID-19 response plans through OSHA have also been enacted to protect employees. Both Maryland and Virginia have state plans enacted. Washington D.C. is under federal OSHA jurisdiction, which covers most private sectors. During this time, OSHA is also offering a no-cost, confidential On-Site Consultation Program to evaluate risks and regulation compliance for small to medium-sized businesses.
Learn More With the Employment Law Attorneys at Eccleston and Wolf
At Eccleston & Wolf, our attorneys have extensive experience representing employers in a variety of industries across Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. Now more than ever, remaining compliant within your business is vital to protecting the health of your employees and the integrity of your business. If your business is facing litigation or potential litigation regarding such matters or other employment-related claims, whether initiated by an employee or otherwise, our team is here to represent you. With extensive experience serving businesses of all sizes, our team is well versed in both regional and national laws relating to employment. For more information, contact your local Eccleston & Wolf office by clicking here: https://www.ecclestonwolf.com/contact-us/