Employers have a duty to keep workplaces free from known hazards—including coronavirus-related dangers—under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
OSHA announced on Nov. 6 that the agency has cited 179 worksites for coronavirus-related violations and proposed a total of $2,496,768 in penalties since the pandemic began, through Oct. 29.
Although the agency hasn’t implemented any coronavirus-specific workplace safety standards, employers still must comply with existing standards that cover pandemic-related safety risks. For example, all employers must provide a work environment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause.
OSHA has cited employers for failing to take the following coronavirus-related actions:
- Implement a written respiratory protection program.
- Provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment.
- Report an injury, illness or fatality.
- Properly record an injury or illness.
- Comply with the general duty clause.