Due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure at the workplace, many states have enacted legislation to include the contraction of COVID-19 as a compensable workers’ compensation “occupational disease.” Just what is an “occupational disease,” how does it differ from other types of workplace injuries, and what do employers need to know about this development?
A group of U.S. Senators have joined the United Mine Workers of America call for MSHA action by introducing a new mine safety bill. The proposed Mine Worker Protection Act – which would require the agency to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) based on current CDC, NIOSH, and OSHA guidance within seven days – would be aimed at protecting miners from exposure to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
As the country begins to reopen, many mine operators are contemplating next steps for their own operations. One certainty is that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will continue to enforce the provisions of the Mine Act and relevant regulatory requirements. On its most recent stakeholder call, MSHA very briefly mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledged there is no MSHA specific guidance forthcoming from the agency, and moved right into a discussion of the next target for rulemaking: Safety Improvement Technologies for Mobile Equipment at Surface Mines, and for Belt Conveyors at Surface and Underground Mines.
In light of the strain that COVID-19 has put on many employers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just released an Enforcement Memo that allows Area Offices to assess an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with certain standards. OSHA has recognized that business closures, restrictions on travel, facility visitor prohibitions, and stay-at-home orders limit the availability of employees and other resources that employers may normally use to provide training, auditing, inspections, testing, and other safety services.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration just issued an interim enforcement response plan to OSHA area offices on how to handle COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. And the plan means that healthcare and emergency response employers need to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to workplace safety.
Many essential businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic may be utilizing temporary workers and contractors. Employers using such workers must keep in mind their responsibilities for notifying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of reportable injuries and illnesses involving these non-employee workers to OSHA. Under some circumstances, you may have to report an injury of a non-employee.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most mine operators have been waiting for MSHA to release some health and safety guidance regarding the outbreak and how to safeguard the safety and health of their miners. After a protracted period of silence, MSHA recently provided some guidance: simply directing mine operators to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which outlines steps employers can take to help protect their workforce.
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.