Occupational Safety and Health Act
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OSHA’s COVID-19 Requirements for Healthcare Employers Take Effect

On June 21, 2021, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) long-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 requirements in the healthcare industry went into effect. Most of the requirements must be followed by July 6, 2021; the remainder (on implementing physical barriers, improved ventilation systems and employee trainings) must be implemented no later than July 21, 2021, according to McDermott’s Abigail M. Kagan and Michelle S. Strowhiro. OSHA’s COVID-19 safety requirements are workplace-specific. Employers who have some employees working in a patient setting and other employees working in a corporate setting may need to follow the requirements only for the patient-based setting.

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What to Do When Scared Workers Do Not Respond to Work Due to COVID-19

Some essential workers are refusing to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Their employers must weigh the employees’ legal rights and understandable health concerns with the organizations’ business needs. It can be a tough balancing act.

In a recent article, McDermott Partner Pankit Doshi said employers may relax documentation requirements due to the difficulty some employees could have obtaining access to medical providers during the pandemic and to encourage ill employees to stay away from work.

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Can Companies Be Held Liable When Their Employees Fall Ill with Coronavirus?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not released specific standards covering COVID-19, Michelle Strowhiro, a partner in the Los Angeles office of McDermott Will & Emery, is quoted in a recent ABA Journal article saying that employers could face risks under Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause if they don’t take steps to protect their workplace and ensure it is not exposed to individuals who may have contracted the virus.

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COVID-19: FAQs on Employees Experiencing Symptoms and Employee Absences

With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer in relation to COVID-19 will vary depending on the nature of their work, the industries served and their location and size, among other considerations. This article outlines what employers need to know about employees experiencing symptoms and employee absences.

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Open for Business: How ‘Essential’ Businesses Can Keep Their Workplace Healthy and Safe

Most states have issued some form of ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ order to flatten the curve of COVID-19. As a result, many business operations have been temporarily suspended, unless the business is engaged in essential or critical infrastructure functions or supports businesses engaged in such functions.

For businesses that are considered ‘essential’ and have employees still reporting to work, what steps can employers take to keep their workplace healthy and safe?

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OSHA and MSHA Increase Penalties for Workplace Safety Violations

On July 1, 2016, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) increased the maximum penalties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act by about 78 percent to account for inflation. Acting under authority conferred by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-74, 701 (part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015), OSHA published an interim final rule that will on August 1, 2016, increase penalties for OSHA violations as follows:

Other-than-serious violations: From $7,000 to $12,471
Serious violations: From $7,000 to $12,471
Repeated violations: From $70,000 to $124,709
Willful violations
minimum: From $5,000 to $8,908
maximum: From $70,000 to $124,709
Failure to abate: From $7,000 per day to $12,471 per day

Penalties under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 were also changed to account for inflation, as follows:

The maximum penalty for most violations will now be $68,300.
The minimum penalty for unwarrantable failure violations under Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act will now be $2,277.
The minimum penalty for unwarrantable failure violations under Section 104(d)(2) of the Mine Act will now be $4,553.
The minimum and maximum penalties for failure to provide timely notification under Section 103(j) of the Mine Act will now be $5,692 and $68,300, respectively.
The maximum penalty for failure to abate will now be $7,399 per day.
The maximum penalty for flagrant violations will now be $250,433.

Questions about these changes should be directed to Art Sapper at +1 202 756 8246.