OSHA Provides Guidance on Return to Work

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.  As businesses attempt to reopen and resume some semblance of normalcy in the COVID19-age, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administrative (OSHA) recently provided guidance to nonessential employers as to how to maintain a safe work environment as these employers attempt to reopen.

During Phase 1 of the reopening, OSHA has advised that businesses should think about the following:

  • Allow workers to continue to telecommute if feasible;
  • Limit non-essential business travel;
  • Limit the number of employees in the workplace at any given time and maintain strict social distancing according to governmental guidelines; and
  • Where feasible, reasonable accommodations should be provided to those employees in “at-risk,” groups. Employers should also consider extending special accommodations to workers with household members at higher risk of severe illness

As employers move to Phase 2 of reopening, OSHA has advised that the following should be considered by the non-essential employers:

  • Continue to allow telecommuting if feasible but also easing restrictions on the number of employers in the workplace at any given time; and
  • Continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines for any employers located within the workplace;
  • Begin to lower restrictions on non-essential business travel; and
  • The employer should continue with reasonable accommodations for employees as in Phase 1.

As the employer reaches Phase 3 of reopening, OSHA guidance provides that the employers should keep in mind such things as hygiene of the workplace and the employees, maintain social distancing guidelines, monitor and identify ill employees as well as train employees in all forms of safety guidelines while providing unrestricted return of employees.

The most recent guidelines also provide employers with frequently asked questions and references the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance about the discontinuance of isolation for people with COVID-19.

If you are a business reopening and want to seek guidance on the best practices to maintain a safe workplace, please call the experienced employment counsel at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. today at 203-878-0661 for a free consultation.

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