In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, workplace safety and cleanliness have become extremely important, even life-saving in certain instances. Hence, is critically important for business owners to be proactive and implement infectious disease prevention measures to promote an overall safer work environment for their employees.
It is also important to understand that business owners have a legal obligation to provide a safe and sanitary work environment to employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act set forth specific standards related health and safety that employers must meet. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act contains a “General Duty” clause that requires employers to provide employees with a workplace free from “recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
The statutory standards set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (i.e. OSHA) or an OSHA-approved state plan.
OSHA Workplace Safety Recommendations in Response to COVID-19
OSHA released guidance aimed at assisting employers with taking specific actions to promote workplace safety, health and hygiene in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The OSHA health and safety recommendations that employers should embrace and implement include the following:
- Promote handwashing and provide the necessary materials (e.g., hand soap, hand wipes, etc.);
- Ensure employees are directed to stay home if they are feeling ill;
- Consider adopting flexible work hours and shifts so your workplace is not at max capacity with personnel;
- Ensure your workplace is cleaned regularly (if you do not have a cleaning service already, consider adding such a service to come in and complete a deep cleaning on a regular basis).
Proactively Provide PPE
Employers should try to provide some form of personal protective equipment (e.g., face masks, gloves, etc.) to employees, especially if your employees are coming in contact with members of the general public.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program
Employers in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are legally obligated to create and implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). Your IIPP should contain specific protocols and guidelines for protecting employees from safety and health hazards, including infectious diseases.
Recent guidance issued by the California-specific OSHA indicated that employers should review and modify their IIPP to ensure there is a written plan focused specifically on COVID-19 at every worksite. You should also conduct a thorough risk assessment of all worksites and designate a representative at each worksite to oversee and implement the protocols within the IIPP.Furthermore, need to be make sure that your workplace is regularly evaluated for compliance with the IIPP.
Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Business Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has significantly impacted the business community in Los Angeles and across the globe. It is reasonable to assert that we are living in a “new world” where your physical surroundings (including your workplace) need to be examined, monitored and cleaned regularly in an effort to combat infectious diseases. The myriad of new regulations and requirements placed on business owners can be overwhelming. Hence, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced business lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss the best preventative measures that need to be implemented to protect you, your employees, and your overall business.