As employers continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA has announced that it is advising compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to evaluate employers’ good-faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards.
Under this interim guidance, CSHOs should assess employers’ efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training or assessments and evaluate if an employer:
- Explored all options to comply with apply with applicable standards such as remote communication strategies or the use of virtual training;
- Implemented interim alternative protections such as administrative or engineering controls;
- Rescheduled required annual activity as soon as possible.
If an employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply, the CSHO may issue a citation as appropriate under existing enforcement policy. However, the employer has attempted to comply in good faith, area offices will take those efforts into consideration when determining whether to issue a citation. The guidance also notes that where enforcement discretion is warranted, area offices must include sufficient documentation in the case file to support the decision.
Employers that are unable to comply because local authorities required their workplace to close should demonstrate a good-faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible after their workplace has reopened.
OSHA is developing a program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of cases where violations were noted but not cited to ensure that corrective actions have been taken once normal operations resume.
OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 Pandemic
OSHA Temporarily Suspends Some Recordkeeping Requirements on Work-Relatedness of COVID-19
10 Ways to Reduce Worker Exposure to COVID-19
OSHA Guidance on N95 Shortage
How to Apply the Hierarchy of Controls in a Pandemic