Category Archives: Workplace Safety & OSHA

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Screening Employees for Symptoms: Perils and Pointers

Screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is critical to limiting both the spread of the virus and a company’s exposure to claims that it did not do enough to protect its employees. But screening itself can create other liabilities, so you will want to be sure your process follows recommended federal, state and local regulations and guidance. Both the U.S. … Continue Reading

Time to Update (or Implement!) Your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Do you have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place? If not, you had best get started.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recommended having such a plan since the beginning of the pandemic, and have recently updated their guidance to spell out exactly what such plans should address. In some … Continue Reading

Avoiding Potential Workplace Claims Arising from Reopening of Businesses

As employers contemplate or commence reopening, they should be cognizant of potential workplace claims which are likely to escalate in the COVID-19 era. Such claims can arise out of a wide range of situations, including: deciding which employees should be brought back to the worksite first, which should be allowed to continue to telework and where there isn’t sufficient work, … Continue Reading

Re-Opening For Business: Is Your Workplace Ready?

Employers face a myriad of issues in thinking through whether and how to re-open for business after mandatory closures, or how to thoughtfully phase out teleworking models currently in place for ongoing enterprises. While federal, state, and local authorities haggle over who will decide which businesses can re-open and under what circumstances, employers should start preparing now. In particular for … Continue Reading

Buyer Beware – FBI Warns of Fraud Involving Procurement of PPE and Other COVID-19 Supplies

Many employers are now making plans to have their employees return to the workplace. Based on recent alerts from the FBI, part of preparing to protect workers from COVID-19 at work should include protecting the company from falling prey to fraudsters. To do that, employers should put in place procedures to carefully screen vendors from whom they will purchase COVID-19 … Continue Reading

About-Face on Face Masks

On Sunday, April 12, 2020, New York became the latest jurisdiction to require employers to supply cloth or surgical masks to employees who are essential workers interacting with the public. The development is the latest reflecting how rapidly guidance on face masks has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.… Continue Reading

Paid Sick Leave and Other Relief Coming for Employees Affected by COVID-19

Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for certain employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will receive a tax credit in return under an emergency bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this weekend. The Senate is expected to consider the bill this week and President … Continue Reading

Declaration of COVID-19 as a Pandemic Changes Rules for Employers

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020 finally acknowledged that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a pandemic. That designation changes the rules for employers.

The standard for justifying disability-related inquiries and medical examinations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is now easier to meet, based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Guidance for Pandemic Preparedness from … Continue Reading

What Employers Need to Know about Coronavirus

Although there have only been a handful of confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or the “coronavirus”) within the United States so far, employers are nevertheless well-advised to take affirmative steps to protect their employees from this rapidly spreading respiratory illness – even if the employers do not have any operations or employees based in China, where the … Continue Reading

Disasters and the Workforce: Navigating Stormy Waters

Thousands of Florida coastal residents were ordered to evacuate last week in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, even as their employers remained open. A pizza restaurant manager made headlines when he threatened action against employees who chose to miss shifts to evacuate. Other employers instructed employees not to report and planned to close their offices part of this week. What are … Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

With the growing list of states legalizing marijuana, are workplace drug policies up in smoke? As the new year begins, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota join the growing list of states that have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, 28 states* and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana use for certain medicinal purposes, and eight states** and the District of Columbia have legalized … Continue Reading

OSHA Clarifies Its “Just Say No” to Automatic Post-Accident Drug-Testing Position

How do employers reconcile automatic drug-testing required by workers’ compensation laws with the provisions of OSHA’s new Rule saying that automatic testing could be retaliatory? Following our recent blog on that issue, many of our readers had questions. They were not alone; in fact, there was so much debate that OSHA issued a Memorandum on October 19, 2016 clarifying its … Continue Reading

Just Say No to Automatic Post-Accident Drug-Testing?

(**Edited as of October 26, 2017.** See updated blog.**)

Do you automatically drug-test after all work-related injuries or accidents? If so, you may want to consider changing your policy in light of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new reporting Rule. The Rule was initially effective August 10, 2016, but enforcement has been delayed while a legal challenge works … Continue Reading

OSHA Publishes Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers

All employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. That’s the takeaway from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) recently published guidance to employers on best practices regarding restroom access for transgender workers.… Continue Reading

Employers’ Safety Records Will Soon Be a Click Away

Employers should be aware of a proposed OSHA recordkeeping rule that is expected to be issued as a final rule this year. The proposed rule requires employers to electronically report to OSHA data on serious workplace injuries and illnesses that the employers already collect on OSHA injury logs. OSHA will provide a secure web site for the data collection, and … Continue Reading

Court Grants Deference to Secretary of Labor’s Interpretation of OSHA Regulation

When the Secretary of the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission offer competing but reasonable interpretations of a worker safety regulation, the Secretary’s interpretation is entitled to deference, according to a recent decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Perez v. Lorenz Cook Co., Case No. 13-1310 (8th Cir., May 9, 2014).

The … Continue Reading

OSHA Proposes Major Recordkeeping Change

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a major change to its rules regarding the way that employers report injury and illness data to the agency.

On November 7, 2013, the OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels announced a new proposed rule that would require establishments with more than 250 employees, which are already required to keep injury … Continue Reading

Healthcare Employers Beware: OSHA Campaign Is Targeting You

On July 16, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is launching a campaign that aims to protect healthcare workers from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).  While this campaign expressly targets the District of Columbia and three nearby states, it is part of a broader campaign by OSHA, unions, and health worker advocates to put increased pressure on … Continue Reading

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