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OSHA Investigates Nearly 200 Coronavirus Workplace Safety Claims

Posted on May 11, 2020 by Lauren Scott

OSHA launched 192 coronavirus-related workplace safety investigations between February 19 and April 23 to determine whether employers failed to adequately protect their workers. This is the culmination of thousands of complaints fielded by investigators since January relating to the pandemic.

According OSHA data compiled by USA Today, half of these inspections involve at least one death or hospitalization stemming from COVID-19 complications.

These inspections often target at-risk workplaces, including 50 hospitals, 24 nursing homes, and 3 schools. In total, the inspections affect 96,000 employees. According to USA Today, this includes:
  • One school system garage in Lexington, KY, where 17 employees tested positive for COVID-19 and one died;
  • A meatpacking plant in Dakota City, NE, where the widow of a deceased employee alleges he continued to go to work after getting sick in order to receive incentive pay; and
  • Two tribal schools in Arizona that allegedly stayed open after other area schools shut down and where two employees died.
Five cases are now closed while the rest are currently under investigation.
 

More Ways OSHA is Helping Employers & Employees

OSHA has compiled plenty of easily digestible resources to help managers and workers understand their responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find the latest updates and resources in our Coronavirus News Hub for EH&S Pros.

Recently, OSHA translated their Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus Poster into 11 languages in addition to English and Spanish. Plus, OSHA created resources specifically for the hardest hit workers, such as those in package delivery, construction, and manufacturing.

Many workers have questions about respirators, specifically the N95 masks. OSHA has issued guidance for managers on how to navigate the mask shortage and how to spot a counterfeit N95 respirator.

Is COVID-19 a Recordable Illness Under 29 CFR 1904.7?

On April 10, 2020, OSHA issued interim guidance related to recording cases of COVID-19 that occur in the workplace. Normally, illnesses contracted in the workplace are recordable if they are new cases and result in medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work, or other criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.

Therefore, OSHA’s interim guidance for illness recordkeeping relaxes the recordkeeping requirement for COVID-19 cases for all employers except those in healthcare industry, emergency response organizations, and correctional institutions.

Convenient, Online OSHA Safety Training

Industry professionals worldwide are turning to online training to keep operations on track and protect employees. Lion’s online OSHA courses can help ensure your workers know their responsibilities, even when your team is spread out across multiple locations.
 
Lion’s most popular OSHA courses:
Respiratory Protection (in English or Spanish)
Personal Protective Equipment
10-Hour OSHA General Industry
Introduction to Industrial Hygiene
Health and Safety Management