Pennsylvania Lawyer for Work Injuries Caused by Coronavirus OSHA Violations
Pennsylvania remains under a “stay at home” order requiring residents to stay indoors, limiting their exposure to other people. Additionally, many businesses throughout the commonwealth have temporarily closed or have made arrangements for their employees to work remotely. However, many essential businesses remain in operation, exposing their employees to the risk of infection.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued recommended guidelines to employers during this volatile time. If you or a loved one has been infected or suffered any adverse medical complications due to exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, contact our Pennsylvania lawyer for work injuries caused by coronavirus OSHA violations. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 for a free and confidential consultation.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Pennsylvania Employer’s Duty During the Coronavirus Pandemic
To address the safety of workers throughout the nation and Pennsylvania, OSHA issued recommended guidelines to limit the spread of the coronavirus to businesses and employers. A combination of best practice procedures and employee training was announced to provide the safest possible work environment for employees.
COVID-19 quickly spread throughout the country, limiting the time companies and governmental agencies had to react. Due to the time restrictions, OSHA was unable to draft and implement official standards for employers affected by the coronavirus. For this reason, the recommended guidelines that were released lack the enforceability of other OSHA regulations and standards.
However, the Occupational Safety and Health Act still requires a business to adhere to the “general duty clause.” Under the terms of the clause, a workplace must be free from known hazards or hazards that should have been known, which will likely cause severe physical harm or result in the death of an employee.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recognizes COVID-19 as a direct threat to employees’ health. Our experienced Pennsylvania attorneys believe that for businesses to comply with the “general duty clause” during the coronavirus, certain protocols should be implemented, including:
- Businesses must recognize the danger and risks that COVID-19 presents and prepare and distribute a comprehensive plan to their employees regarding working during the pandemic.
- The work environment should be rearranged to mitigate the risk of infection. This includes providing readily available wash stations, implementing a system of regular cleaning and disinfection, and providing employees proper safety equipment such as gloves and masks if necessary.
- Employees should be provided with information regarding recognizing COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, a uniformed procedure for managing sick employees should be implemented, including isolating infected employees if required.
- Businesses should acknowledge the importance of social distancing in mitigating the risk of infection and provide, if possible, employees the ability to work at safe distances from each other and the public.
Pennsylvania Employers and Liability Under OSHA for Employees Infected with the Coronavirus
COVID-19 is raising many legal questions regarding employer liability and employee rights. The first wrongful death lawsuit was filed in an Illinois court on April 6th. In an attempt to impose liability, the complaint alleged that the employer’s conduct willfully and wantonly endangered their employees’ health, fully aware that COVID-19 presented a dangerous risk. Purposefully neglecting to implement safety precautions to protect employees from a recognizable hazard such as COVID-19, could rise to a violation of the “general duty clause.”
Businesses were provided with clear guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus infections among workers. Combining the recommendations and the “general duty clause” provides a list of possible violations that could open up an employer to liability for workplace infections. We believe conduct that would be violations include:
- Failing to train employees regarding best practices in mitigating the spread of infection
- Neglecting to have a plan in place to address sick employees or monitor employees for symptoms of COVID-19
- Maintaining a workplace that does not allow for social distancing
- Not having adequate wash stations available for employees
- Failing to supply employees with proper safety equipment such as gloves
- Improperly disinfecting or cleaning the workplace
Businesses should avoid overcrowded areas in the workplace and make arrangements, if possible, to work remotely to mitigate the spread of the virus. Furthermore, to limit the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, employers need to have their employees report any symptoms immediately. Additionally, employees should implement procedures to minimize the risk of transmission in the workplace, including providing easy access to handwashing stations, wipes, and sanitizers.
The law concerning employer liability during the coronavirus remains unclear. However, if a business purposefully ignores OSHA recommendations and guidelines, placing its employees at risk, its conduct could be considered negligent in light of the hazard COVID-19 presents. If an employee becomes infected because their employer willfully failed to comply with OSHA guidelines, they could file a personal injury claim. Our Pennsylvania work injury attorneys have been analyzing the present law as it pertains to COVID-19 while monitoring ongoing legal arguments across the nation.
Call Our Pennsylvania Lawyer for Work Injuries Caused by Coronavirus OSHA Violations for a Free Consultation
Our Pennsylvania lawyers for work injuries caused by coronavirus OSHA violations have 35 years of representing individuals who suffered physical harm in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting many challenging legal questions and our attorneys have the depth of skill and knowledge to take up this new fight. If you or a loved one has contracted the coronavirus due to the negligence of your employer, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule a free consultation and review the details of your case.