OSHA Relaxes Enforcement to Permit Use of N95s Certified in Certain Countries

After relaxing enforcement on the use of expired N95 respirators and on their extended use and reuse, late on April 3, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Enforcement Guidance for Use of Respiratory Protection Equipment Certified under Standards of Other Countries or Jurisdictions During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. The new guidance supplements, but does not replace, previous guidance.

DOT Issues Guidance on Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued guidance to DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents regarding drug and alcohol testing concerns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the guidance, the DOT explains its commitment to maintaining public safety while simultaneously providing flexibility to transportation industries operating during the national emergency.

FMCSA Offers Flexible Solutions for Drug and Alcohol Testing During COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic is interrupting, and in many cases, preventing compliance with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug and alcohol testing regulations. On March 23, 2020, DOT published guidance on compliance with DOT drug and alcohol regulations that clarified some existing legal requirements but offered little in the way of practical solutions. On March 25, 2020, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published clear, flexible guidance specific to FMCSA’s testing requirements to aid FMCSA-regulated employers unable to comply with FMCSA’s testing requirements due to COVID-19.

Implementing COVID-19 Temperature Checks in Light of the CDC’s and OSHA’s Silence: What Employers Need to Know

Now that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) acknowledges that employers may implement temperature screening measures in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many employers want to conduct them, and want to know how to conduct them. In some locations, employers may even feel compelled to conduct them based on location-specific or general community mitigation guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tips for Manufacturers on Continuing Production During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A recent article proclaimed a truth that manufacturers in all industry sectors know all too well: “You can’t build jets working from home.” As law offices, financial services firms, and tech companies close their doors and require employees to “work from home,” manufacturers face the reality that manufacturing requires employees to work on site. There is no factory production work from home. Intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and workers’ compensation absences are hard enough to manage in the ordinary course of business. But the challenge to staff a factory becomes much more daunting every day during this COVID-19 pandemic, with emphasis on self-quarantine, social distancing, and avoiding groups of as few as 10 people.

OSHA Allows Healthcare Employers to Suspend N95 Annual Fit-Testing During Coronavirus “Outbreak”

On March 14, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued temporary enforcement guidance addressing the fit-testing requirements in the agency’s respiratory protection standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.134). The guidance applies to healthcare workers using N95 respirators to protect them from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

Coronavirus Watch: What Are Employers’ Legal Responsibilities for the Safety of an Employee’s Home Workplace?

An employer who requires or permits employees to work from their homes has limited responsibilities for the safety and health of the employee’s working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sharply distinguishes between home offices and other home workplaces, such as home manufacturing facilities in which, for example, employees assemble electronic parts.

OSHA Issues New Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

On the evening of March 9, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new guidance, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.” The guidance divides employers into four risk categories and provides recommendations on engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment to protect employees from coronavirus.

COVID-19 in Canada: Key Questions for Employers to Consider

As of March 3, 2020, the Canadian government has confirmed 33 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country: 20 cases in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia, and one in Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to assess the public health risk as low. Nevertheless, Canadian employers may want to ensure that the risk of exposure in the workplace is minimized. Here are some key questions for employers to consider.

OSHA’s Enforcement of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry, 2018–2019: By the Numbers

For employers concerned about how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been enforcing its Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry, the agency’s enforcement data for the standard’s first 18 months provides some insight. From July 2018 to December 31, 2019, OSHA and state plan states issued 720 violations based on 29 C.F.R. Section 1926.1053, for a collective penalty total of over $1.5 million.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: D.C. Circuit Holds Employer That Failed to Implement Its Own Safety Program Violated the General Duty Clause

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently issued a decision that should be of concern to every employer and safety professional. The case involved an employer that had ambitious but unimplemented requirements in its written safety procedures—a lack of implementation that in large part caused the employer to be found guilty of a violation of the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Maintaining Employees’ Privacy During a Public Health Crisis

As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, employers have been trying to strike a balance between safety and privacy as they apply their own policies and attempt to follow laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 in the United States.

Department of Transportation Issues Notice on Use of CBD Products by Safety-Sensitive Employees

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent notice on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) products serves as a warning to employees in DOT-defined safety-sensitive positions. While the DOT has always had clear regulations strictly prohibiting the use of marijuana for truck drivers, school bus drivers, train engineers, pilots, transit vehicle operators, and the like, the increasingly widespread use of CBD products created a gray area with regard to testing.

Japan’s COVID-19 Response Could Indicate a Global Shift in Daily Workplace Disease Prevention Practices

Recognizing that Japan has entered a new phase in its fight against the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Japan officials announced a preemptive approach geared toward risk mitigation and slowing down the spread of the virus to prevent a spike in infections. This strategy, which includes strengthening testing and quarantining capacities, could have long-term impacts on employment practices, particularly in office-based environments in which technology provides more adaptive flexibility.

China Provides Return-to-Work Guidance for Employers Dealing With End of Spring Festival Holidays and Ongoing Coronavirus Epidemic

The outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (now designated COVID-19) caused massive disruption in China, including a nationwide extension of its Spring Festival holidays. Though February 10, 2020, was the last “public holiday,” some businesses remain closed, and many still encourage China-based employees to work from home.

Cal/OSHA Issues Coronavirus Guidance for Employers

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has released Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This guidance pertains to “health care facilities, laboratories, public health services, police services and other locations where employees are reasonably anticipated to be exposed to confirmed or suspected cases of aerosol transmissible diseases.”

Coronavirus Update for U.S. Employers

Recent fast-paced developments, increasing employee apprehensions, and uncertainty regarding the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV have left employers and employees with some concerns. We recently discussed the emergence of the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, and the first confirmed cases in the United States, which were deemed to be travel related and acquired by individuals traveling from China.

The Coronavirus Outbreak’s Impact on International Employers

As the world responds to the accelerating 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak originating in Wuhan, China—a situation now declared by the World Health Organization to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern—multinational employers, particularly those with employees based in or traveling to China, are assessing their role in managing workforce impact. In addition to taking precautions to prevent the spread of illness, employers are contending with government-imposed travel shutdowns and advisories, quarantines, border screenings, and extended holidays that may affect local operations and global mobility.

CDC Confirms First Case of Wuhan Coronavirus in the United States: What Employers Need to Know

Employers with employees traveling to and from China may want to take note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on January 21, 2020, that the United States had confirmed its first case of a new strain of the coronavirus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month. The virus has already sickened hundreds of people and is reported to have killed six, according to Chinese authorities.

New and Updated California Workplace Safety Regulations Expected in 2020

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board continues to have a multitude of draft regulations on its plate for this coming year. Employers and trade groups will have the opportunity to influence California’s new workplace safety regulations at the advisory committee level and by attending the monthly Standards Board meetings, which will occur throughout the state. Here we highlight some of the most critical updates for California employers.