September 30, 2020

Volume X, Number 274

September 30, 2020

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Healthcare Employers Facing OSHA Scrutiny During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare industry, both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state plans like California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (more commonly known as Cal/OSHA) are seeing a significant increase in complaints, inspections, and investigations of workplace illnesses and fatalities. Anecdotally, the healthcare industry, including nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, acute care services, and senior living facilities, appear to be facing a huge wave of regulatory inspections at a never-before-seen pace. While OSHA has relieved some of the usual occupational safety and health obligations that healthcare employers must fulfill, the agency also has reemphasized—as evidence by its April 16, 2020, announcement on employers’ good faith efforts when enforcing compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic—that those employers must ensure that their workers’ safety and health in the workplace are not compromised. There is no question that OSHA’s enforcement focus right now, when not in response to complaints and fatalities, is on the healthcare industry.

OSHA requirements for healthcare facilities regulate everything from sanitation to bloodborne pathogens and personal protective equipment (PPE) and from training, to recordkeeping and administrative and engineering controls in order to address hazards like COVID-19 and much more. Businesses facing these risks and OSHA inspections may want to be careful when determining their illness recording and reporting obligations and responding to document requests and interviews.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 110

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About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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