Employer’s Good Faith Efforts Considered When Enforcing OSHA Compliance During Coronavirus Pandemic

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | April 17, 2020

In light of the many COVID-19 restrictions placed on employers, including infection control practices, quarantine and social distancing requirements, many employers have questioned how OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) will evaluate an employer's efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards during the pandemic. On April 16, 2020, OSHA addressed these issues in an interim guidance and an employer's good faith requirements in complying with those standards.

In its guidance entitled "Discretion in Enforcement when Considering an Employer's Good Faith During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic," OSHA noted that employees, consultants and contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing and other essential safety and other industrial hygiene services may be hampered in meeting certain standards due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Under the guidance, CHSOs should assess an employers "good faith efforts" to comply by evaluating if, among other things, the employer (1) explored all options in order to comply with applicable standards, (2) implemented interim alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls, and (3) rescheduled required activity as soon as possible. 

The guidance is effective immediately and will remain in effect until rescinded, likely once the COVID-19 restrictions are removed.

Contact an attorney with Miller & Martin's Workplace Environmental, Health and Safety/OSHA practice group to discuss your specific questions.

For more information about the ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit Miller & Martin's Coronavirus Resources.