During the height of the novel coronavirus’ (COVID-19) outbreak in China, the country isolated Wuhan to contain the spread of the virus. As global cases of COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed during the last several weeks, Italy, Spain, and France have imposed a similar strict quarantine of all residents. We are now starting to see similar measures being imposed here in the United States on a localized basis.
Fear of the coronavirus and flu may cause anxiety among employees who frequently encounter other people, which may lead them to request permission to wear – or to simply wear without permission – a medical mask or respirator. While this may address the anxieties of employees, it could lead to other problems, such as causing customers or coworkers to panic. To avoid these issues, some employers in industries such as retail have prohibited their employees from wearing medical masks or respirators, like the department store in London that recently barred staff from wearing masks due to the “risk of spreading further anxiety.”
Employers have long operated under the premise that the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy for workers injured on the job. Indeed, section 97.-10.1 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states that employers in compliance with the Act are protected from all other claims and remedies that could be brought by employees, dependents, next of kin, or representatives in the event of a workplace injury or death.
Harkening back to the “Blacklists” imposed by the Obama administration, Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, urged the government to ban a construction contractor from work on public lands in a tweet this week after the company pleaded guilty on charges related to the death of a worker. But can the government even do that?
Ever wonder what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would do if an employer refused to pay a fine? We just found out, and it’s not just the employer that needs to be concerned. After a New Jersey-based construction company failed for four years to pay $412,000 in penalties that the OSHA assessed against it, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently found the President – and only board member – of the company in contempt and therefore liable to pay the company’s penalty.
When an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows up at your workplace, know this: everything—and we mean everything—that a manager or supervisor says at any point to the inspector will bind the company and may be used against the company to support a citation.
Every presidential administration has its priorities, and President Trump’s is no different. President Trump has put his stamp on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by stalling, delaying, or modifying Obama Administration policies (think the anti-retaliation rule and the e-file accident report regulation).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an inspection of your facility. OSHA issues a serious citation to your company for a machine guarding violation, despite the fact the OSHA investigator did not actually observe a plausible infraction. Your company would like to contest the citation because it was not justified. However, your company is not sure if it can afford to pay an attorney to fight the citation. There may be relief. The Equal Access to Justice Act may provide your company with an avenue for having the government foot the bill for your company challenging the citation.
North Carolina law requires employers with a workers’ compensation experience rate modifier (“ERM”) of 1.5 or higher to “establish and carry out a safety and health program to reduce or eliminate hazards and to prevent injuries and illnesses to employees.” Not just any program, however, will comply with the statutory requirements.
April 28, 2019 is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Fisher Phillips proudly celebrates the safety of all workers with our clients.