Let’s Clear Up The Confusion — Masks Are Our Best Defense Against COVID-19
Senior Counsel Gina Fonte was quoted in the Washington Business Journal about legal obligations for employers as workplaces begin to reopen. The most important thing to know is that employers have the legal obligation to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees. Applying OSHA guidelines, whether required or not, will likely help companies avoid accusations of negligence or violations of a contractual obligation or worker’s compensation laws. Employers must closely follow state and local requirements, which can be more stringent than federal guidelines.
“Employers have a legal obligation to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees as they reopen workplaces,” said Ms. Fonte citing the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Per that clause, the employer must furnish all workers, including temporary or contract workers, with PPE and ensure the workplace is free from “recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Under no scenario where OSHA is applicable, does the employee bear the cost for PPE.”