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OSHA Guidance Related to COVID-19

OSHA is assessing and responding to numerous complaints about employee protection from the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to keep everyone informed, OSHA has launched a website that provides information on prevention of COVID-19, specifically for employers and workers. The website is being updated as more information is learned about the virus and spread of same.

While there is no specific OSHA standard to address COVID-19, there are general standards (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Bloodborne Pathogens) that are relevant to protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19. This is a good time to review your policies and to make sure you are operating in compliance with your policies to minimize the spread of the virus.

In addition, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, free of recognized hazards. As such, employers must stay informed of the risks associated with COVID-19 and address any known hazards. It is advisable to develop a COVID-19 plan to address hazards and implement precautions at the worksite. This may include but is not limited to restrictions on travel, allowing for increased worker absenteeism, options for working remotely, staggered shifts, etc. There is no specific requirement for any of these measures, and each employer must assess its workplace and workforce and implement a plan that protects its workers.

One final but important note: While colds and flu are generally exempt from recordability, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.

© 2020 Jones Walker LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 76


About this Author

Jane H. Heidingsfelder, Jones Walker, MSHA Employer Representation Lawyer, Injury Reporting Policy Attorney

Jane Heidingsfelder is a partner in the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group in the New Orleans office. She has extensive experience representing clients in a wide array of industries before the Occupational Safety & Health Administration ("OSHA") and Mine Safety & Health Administration ("MSHA"). In particular, she is frequently asked to assist companies during on-site safety and health investigations, as well as in subsequent litigation with the Department of Labor. 

Ms. Heidingsfelder has defended clients in state and federal...

Sidney Lewis Labor Lawyer Jones Walker New Orleans

Sid Lewis is a partner and leader of the Labor & Employment Practice Group, where he consults and advises management and human resources personnel with respect to employment and labor laws.

Sid advises clients throughout the United States in all industries, including retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and service industries. A majority of his work involves general advice to employers on a variety of employment situations, including discipline, terminations, applications, leave requests, transfers, noncompete agreements, trade secret information, wage payments, wage and hour laws, family and medical leave, disabilities, workers' compensation, discrimination complaints, workplace harassment, internal investigations, documentation, policy reviews, preventative counseling, supervisor training, and early litigation negotiation. He frequently presents training and educational seminars for supervisors, centering primarily on federal and state employment laws, as well as effective supervision techniques designed to avoid litigation.

Sid has successfully defended hundreds of lawsuits involving federal and state employment claims. He regularly handles Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Labor Relations Board charges on behalf of employers.

In the labor sector, Sid has represented companies throughout the United States as labor counsel and/or chief spokesman in contract negotiations and has handled union elections and labor arbitrations in a variety of industries.

Sid is a frequent speaker and moderator for personnel associations and trade groups throughout the Southeast.