On Monday, April 6th, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that they have issued a new poster listing steps that all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The release is the latest effort by OSHA to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The non-mandatory poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers’ safety and health. Safety measures include:
- encouraging sick workers to stay home;
- establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts;
- discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, and other work equipment; and
- using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals with label claims against the coronavirus.
General Duty Clause
Even though the poster is not mandatory to be displayed in the workplace, all employers have an obligation to provide their employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” This requirement is included within OSHA’s General Duty Clause. By following the suggested steps listed on the poster, employers can reasonably state that they took preventative measures to keep workers safe from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
Other Critical OSHA Resources on COVID-19
In addition to the poster, OSHA has several other resources available to provide guidance for employers to keep workers safe & comply with existing regulations during the COVID-19 crisis:
- a March 2020 publication entitled “Preparing Workplace for COVID-19,” which provides in-depth guidance to employers in both essential and non-essential industries;
- a useful overview of which OSHA standards and record keeping rules applyduring the current pandemic;
- an enforcement memorandum regarding N95 respirator shortages and respiratory protection for affected health workers;
- interim guidance on specific worker groups with the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure.
In this time of uncertainty due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, employers have a responsibility to keep the workplace safe from hazards, coronavirus being one of them. By following the information provided on the latest OSHA poster, employers can showcase their attempts to keep employees healthy and avoid receiving possible fines and penalties.