Over the past few weeks we have not given a lot of space to OSHA and the impact of the Coronavirus in the OSHA world. I don’t plan on outlining all of the various documents OSHA has put out in the past few weeks. Suffice it to say they are not sitting around.
There are a couple main points that you probably need to take away. First, OSHA will be using enforcement discretion when it comes to violations impacted by the COVID emergency. An example of this may be where you tried to get your lift truck drivers re-certified and use an outside vendor to do this. You may not be allowing outside vendors or those vendors may not be going onsite anywhere. These kind of violations will be appropriately handled as long as the employer makes a good faith effort to comply. ONLY violations that do not put the employees in danger of death or serious harm will be handled with enforcement discretion and then only when the employer makes good faith efforts to comply but could not because of the Coronavirus emergency.
The next thing is that OSHA is not making as many on-site inspections. Cases such as fatal accidents and coronavirus related complaints will draw an on-site inspection but most will be handled in other ways or delayed until after the emergency has passed. When OSHA has to go on-site it has issued guidance to its employees on ppe and best practices when they do go out in the field.
Finally, if a complaint is made regarding COVID-19, OSHA is considering whether the employer is using best practices and following CDC and department of health guidance with their employees. If an employer is not following good practices to mitigate the virus, it is possible for OSHA to write up a General Duty Clause citation. So do your best and don’t let your guard down.