When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, their are special laws and regulations business owners must follow. If your business fails to abide by the safety regulations set in place, you could face liability charges if an employee becomes infected while working.
OSHA’s General Duty Clause
Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers must take steps to ensure the protection and prevention of occupational exposure to COVID-19. Examples of these steps are as follows, but are not limited to:
- Administrative controls promoting social distancing (i.e. blocking access to social gathering areas, staggering shifts in order to minimize the number of workers onsite)
- Engineering controls (i.e. installing barriers blocking physical access)
- Providing and/or requiring personal protective equipment (this equipment must be strictly personal or should be thoroughly cleaned after each use)
- Established and enforced safety and health rules (i.e. requiring face coverings)
Furthermore, along with the above requirements, some states are also requiring that employers include a classification to each job, stating the risk of exposure individuals may face while working. Violation of any of these rules may result in penalties against your business.
For more information and to stay up to date regarding OSHA’s COVID-19 regulations and laws, visit OSHA’s COVID-19 page.
Along with updated safety measure being set in place, states have also begun to implement safety measures protecting employees who raise COVID-19 safety concerns. For instance, Colorado has implemented legislation prohibiting employers from taking action against employees who raise safety/health concerns or voluntarily wearing their own PPE.
State Liability Protections
There are some states that have enacted laws that are aimed at protecting employers from civil lawsuits related COVID-19. For instance, Mississippi has enacted legislation protecting business from civil damages pertaining to death and injury related to COVID-19. As long as your business is able to show proof and show that it followed all public health guidelines, your business should be clear from any damages resulting in employee injury or death, pertaining to COVID-19.
During time of unrest, harassment and discrimination noticeably increase. It is important to remind your employees of your anti-harassment and discrimination policies, that you take all complaints seriously, and launch impartial and prompt investigations into those claims. If an issue is discovered, administer disciplinary measures unbiased and consistently.
In addition, it important to remember that actions taken against an employee, even if those actions were taken to protect said employee, could be found as discriminatory. If you refuse to bring back, or let go of an employee, because they are a high-risk factor for COVID-19, your business could be found guilty of discrimination.
Asking for Help
We understand the complexities that are involved when it comes to handling COIVD-19 related laws and regulations. COVID-19 based regulations are constantly evolving and adapting to the ongoing situation, making keeping on top of them rather difficult. That is why you should choose Foy Safety Consulting Inc. as you partner and safety advisor. We can help manage and ensure that your business is up to date on all COVID-19 related regulations and laws, in addition to all other safety concerns you may face. If you have questions, give us a call or visit our FAQ!