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US | COVID-19 | OSHA Publishes Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19

On July 2, 2020 US OSHA published a set of frequently asked questions related to COVID-19. The FAQ provides guidance on a variety of topic areas of great interest to employers. OSHA has updated a few times over the past few weeks.

The FAQ provides guidance in the following topic areas:

  • Cleaning and disinfection of the workplace – OSHA directs employers to follow CDC guidance.
  • How to properly use and maintain cloth face coverings – OSHA recommends the use of cloth face coverings, but emphasizes, that unless mandated by a local jurisdiction, employers have discretion on when it is appropriate to use.
  • A list of specific OSHA standards that apply to employer protection of workers from COVID-19 – OSHA directs employers to its standards page, which highlights the importance of the OSH Act’s general duty clause, which requires employers to provides employees with a safe workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
  • Whether an employer must provide restrooms and hand-washing facilities for employees -multiple OSHA standards require employers to provide restrooms and handwashing facilities.
  • What an employer should do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 – OSHA directs employers to follow guidance published by CDC.
  • Reporting – work-related deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 must be reported to OSHA and the death must have occurred within 30 days of confirmation of the COVID-19 case.
  • Whether an employer can require an employee who has concerns about COVID-19 to come to work – employers can require such employees to come to work unless there is a reason under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) permitting them to not go to work or under circumstances where the situation is urgent and so clearly hazardous that reasonable persons would believe they would be in serious danger if they returned to work.
  • Whether an employee can be fired for complaining about workplace safety and health concerns related to COVID-19 – employers cannot retaliate again employees who complain about unsafe working conditions.
____________________ Sources: COVID-19 Frequently Asked QuestionsOSHA, July 2, 2020.  ____________________ LinkedIn COVID-19 expert forum Join our LinkedIn discussion group, COVID-19 HSE Red-on-line Experts Forum, to share your experiences and best practices relative to the novel coronavirus with fellow EHS professionals and the Red-on-line team.

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