Do you feel like your employer is failing to adequately protect you and your co-workers from COVID-19 or other illnesses? As we have discussed in recent posts, these are unprecedented times and many businesses are struggling to keep up with the changing regulations. Unfortunately, innocent employees are paying the price.
Take the recent activity by OSHA, for example. OSHA has cited six Northern California workplaces for failing to protect their employees from COVID-19. The employers, which include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and a police department, were cited for various health and safety violations including some classified as serious, with penalties ranging from $2,060 to $32,000.
All workers are entitled to a safe workplace, and according to OSHA, those in “health care and public safety are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and employers must put in place measures to protect these essential personnel.” Put simply, these employers were cited for not protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19 because they did not take steps to update their workplace safety plans to properly address hazards related to the virus.
The employers cited for COVID-19 and other safety and health violations include:
OHSA and Workplace Safety
Overseeing workplace safety guidelines are OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard.
The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is designed to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens that cause disease in humans. Workers in many occupations, including first responders, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens. A California employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures.
When implementing the ADT standard, OSHA hoped to prevent worker illness from infectious diseases that can be transmitted by inhaling air that contains viruses (including SARS-CoV-2), bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. While the OSHA ATD standard is only mandatory for certain employers in California, such as healthcare, emergency response, corrections, public safety and laboratory workers, it may provide useful guidance for protecting other workers exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The employers cited above put their workers at risk as they failed to comply with the ATD standard.
OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. If you believe your workplace is unsafe or that your employer is not taking the necessary precautions to protect you from contracting COVID-19, you will want to contact the experienced employment attorneys at LOEAB Law today to discuss your legal rights.