OSHA Cites Company for Violating COVID-19 Safety Rules
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has cited a Colorado-based insurance company for blatantly violating coronavirus safety rules. One employee died.
OSHA began investigating after receiving a complaint on April 21 about unsafe working conditions.
“This company showed an indifference toward the safety and well-being of its employees, including one who fell victim to the coronavirus,” said OSHA Denver Area Director Amanda Kupper.
To date, OSHA has issued about 650 COVID-19 related citations since July 2020. The total penalties exceed $4 million.
Some 3,784 lawsuits were filed against employers between March 2020 and Oct. 1, 2021, including 356 class-action suits. Florida, Ohio, California, New Jersey, and New York are the states with the most lawsuits.
While construction is not one of the industries hit hardest by the lawsuits, health care, manufacturing, retail and public administration are.
Along with the Delta variant, which caused a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in recent months, there has also been a sharp increase in coronavirus-related workplace litigation.
Attorneys across the country expect to see even more lawsuits filed by employees related to the pandemic.
OSHA is recommending a multilayered approach to health safety, free from known hazards. For example, the agency states that coronavirus spreads mainly among unvaccinated people in close contact in the workplace. This is particularly problematic inside buildings where ventilation may be poor.
“Vaccination is the key element in a multilayered approach to protect workers,” OSHA states. “Multilayered controls tailored to your workplace are especially important for those workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk.”
Some 80 million Americans currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have not done so.
In September, President Joe Biden announced a plan that obligates employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccines or weekly COVID-19 testing. Science shows that a fully vaccinated workforce is the safest when it comes to the virus.
Recommendations for a Healthy Workforce
Support for Workers: Provide paid time off for employees getting a vaccine or recovering from the shot’s side effects. Extend the same support to working parents who choose to get their children vaccinated.
Incentivize Vaccination: Give workers an incentive, such as a gift card, to get vaccinated and bypass routine testing.
Conduct Routine Screening: Require workers to be routinely screened weekly with rapid tests, providing a high degree of certainty that they are not infected.
Require Masks: Require mask-wearing for anyone coming into a business, whether employee or customer, regardless of their vaccination status. Transmission rates will drop as more people get vaccinated.
Write a Vaccination Policy: Create an employee vaccination policy that includes contractors and temporary workers, to require or encourage vaccination. Align this policy with your company values.
Regularly Share Information: Share safety facts and the benefits of the coronavirus vaccination.
Be Supportive: Create a supportive and safe work environment. Every employee will have questions before deciding whether to get vaccinated. Respect their decision, even if it means they can no longer work for you.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.