Addressing an Epidemic in the Workplace: Best Practices and Legal Considerations

As the evolving coronavirus virus (COVID-19) first discovered in China continues to grow in both China and other countries including the United States, businesses here need to consider a number of factors in preparing a response plan. One of the most challenging issues in dealing with any epidemic affecting the workplace is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A multitude of factors needs to be considering in formulating an appropriate response plan including but not limited to the nature of the epidemic, size of the business, the specific industry, the demographics of the workforce, and operational needs. In addition, there are numerous laws which must be carefully considered in any response plan such as OSHA, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to name just a few. 

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Recording of Injuries/Illnesses Under OSHA

As mentioned in our last blog, the time for covered employers to post the OSHA 300A Summary is from February 1 to April 30.  It is also a good time to revisit the issue of what kinds of injuries and illnesses should be recorded as employers sometimes struggle with this fact-sensitive question. OSHA has several sources that can assist with this determination. The OSHA recordkeeping forms themselves provide guidance on this issue. 

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Reminder: OSHA 300A Summary to be Posted from February 1 Until April 30

It’s that time of year again – for covered employers to post the OSHA 300A, i.e., a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred last year.  The OSHA 300 Log is not required to be posted, only the summary. Employers with ten or fewer employees and employers in certain industry groups are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. A complete list of exempt industries in the retail, services, finance, and real estate sectors is posted on OSHA’s website.

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Distracted Driving and OSHA

Although there is no specific standard generally covering distracted driving, OSHA has made clear that the general duty clause may apply. Indeed, OSHA has stated that more workers are killed each year in motor vehicle crashes than any other cause. However, despite this finding, many businesses do not have formal distracted driving policies.  (more…)

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Robots and OSHA

In Will Smith’s hit movie, I, Robot set in 2035 robots were allegedly governed by the Three Laws of Robotics which were originally created by Isaac Asimov. The first law states, “[a] robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” This law is not followed in the movie (or at least only a very strained interpretation of it) by certain robots and Will Smith needs to come to the rescue of humanity.  (more…)

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It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s OSHA?

According to a recent report by Bloomberg Law, OSHA used camera-equipped drones for nine inspections so far in 2018. The Bloomberg report cites to OSHA guidance that indicates the drones were often used at worksites following an accident where it was too dangerous for CSHO’s to enter or be nearby and included an oil drilling rig fire, a building collapse, a combustible dust blast, an accident on a television tower, and a chemical plant explosion. Needless to say, the use of drones and likely increase of such use in an OSHA inspection raises some novel issues that need to be considered by employers. (more…)

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