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Discretion in OSHA Enforcement During COVID-19

Posted on 4/23/2020 by Lauren Scott

Last week, OSHA released a memo stating that the Agency will consider an employer’s “good-faith efforts” prior to any enforcement action in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With widespread business closures, travel restrictions, limitations on group gatherings, and stay-at-home or shelter-in-place directives, it may be difficult to provide OSHA-required inspections, audits, and safety oversights.

OSHA will continue to issue citations for workplace safety violations. That said, agency personnel will consider any efforts an employer makes to follow safety regulations prior to any enforcement actions. This may include alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls.

Where regulatory compliance is not possible, companies are expected to ensure employees are not exposed to hazards from tasks, processes, or equipment that they were not trained for. Employers must also demonstrate that they exhausted all options to comply with OSHA regulations, such as utilizing virtual training or remote communication strategies.

After completing an OSHA inspection during which there one or more violations are found that do not result in a citation, OSHA will continue to monitor and reassess the workplace to ensure corrective actions are made when available.

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Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, enforcement, osha, OSHA compliance, osha memo, safety hazards, workplace hazards, workplace safety

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