Are There New Work-Safety Rules for My Reopened Business?
Senior Counsel Gina Fonte was quoted in a Barron's article about work-safety rules as businesses begin to reopen across the country. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers are required to ensure that their workplaces are free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to their employees. Therefore, businesses that are reopening need to reduce the risk of employees contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. OSHA recommends that businesses follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including implementing social distancing when possible, limiting the number of people in break rooms, and consistently disinfecting frequently used areas and items.
While federal, state, and local guidelines about reducing coronavirus exposure are constantly changing, businesses should also establish and implement their own workplace safety policies, said Ms. Fonte. She recommends that employers take a layered approach when writing COVID-19 workplace safety policies: “Start with the federal, overlay state, and then overlay locality, and the more protective, the more applicable.” If there is a discrepancy between guidelines, Ms. Fonte says employers should follow the more-protective measure. For example, at the federal level, OSHA doesn’t require retail workers to wear masks, but many states do. So, Ms. Fonte says, follow the state requirement.
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