On June 10, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions and answers, regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators. It further reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed. In addition, the guidance notes the need for social distancing measures, even when workers are wearing cloth face coverings, and recommends following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on washing face coverings. (For our FAQ on face coverings, click here.)

Importantly, the new guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. OSHA states that the “recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”

We’ve copied the most helpful OSHA FAQs here and underlined pertinent language for emphasis:

Are employers required to provide cloth face coverings to workers?

Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. As such, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.


Continue Reading OSHA Guidance on Wearing Masks in the Workplace

We are pleased to share a recent SHRM article, “What to Do When Scared Workers Don’t Report to Work Due to COVID-19,” with quotes from Robin Samuel. This articles discusses several topics including employee’s legal rights and how to respond to an essential worker’s fear of returning to work.

Click here to view the article.

With signs that the virus is peaking in the US, and with some state Shelter-in-Place Orders scheduled to be lifted in the coming weeks, employers are turning their attention to planning for how best to bring employees back to work.

As with the initial outbreak, US employers can look to other corners of the world

Predictions about the spread of COVID-19 through significant parts of the population and its effects on American life are staggering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 54,000 confirmed cases in the United States. As countries across the world implement new, extraordinary measures in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, which

With the recent revisions to OSHA’s Field Operations Manual that, among other changes, allow for increased penalties and grant inspectors greater discretion, it is more important than ever for companies to know what to do when OSHA comes knocking.  OSHA has made it extremely easy for employees to lodge complaints and has been concentrating efforts on raising employee awareness – both of which increase the likelihood of an inspection.  OSHA has also made it clear that the oil and gas industry is an agency priority and companies within that industry can expect heightened scrutiny.  Regardless of your past experience with OSHA, knowing how to handle an inspection will help make the process as smooth (and citation-free) as possible.
Continue Reading Surviving an OSHA Inspection – What to Expect When OSHA Comes Knocking