Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Coronavirus Update 4-7-2020: What does OSHA have to say about coronavirus for employers?

OSHA, the federal agency responsible for health and safety, has been all over the coronavirus pandemic, providing a wealth of resources for employers. 

That said, OSHA does not have a specific standard addressing viral pandemics. Instead, it regulates this outbreak via its general duty clause: “Each employer shall furnish to each of [its] employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

So what steps should employers take to furnish employees a workplace safe from coronavirus—a hazard that is causing or is likely to cause death or serious physical harm?

Yesterday, OSHA offered these 10 steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus:

  1. Encourage workers to stay home if sick.

  2. Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.

  3. Provide a place to wash hands or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.

  4. Limit worksite access to only essential workers, if possible.

  5. Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), if feasible. 

  6. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, or other work tools and equipment.

  7. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. 

  8. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved cleaning chemicals with label claims against the coronavirus.

  9. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products.

  10. Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

OSHA also has a wealth of other coronavirus related resources for employers on its website, including its own portal with coronavirus information for workers and employers about the evolving coronavirus outbreak, which includes the following:

If you need more information about keeping your workplace OSHA compliant during this outbreak, contact one of Meyers Roman’s OSHA attorneys.

* Photo by CDC on Unsplash