Most, if not all, of the states in the U.S. are rolling out reopening dates for businesses and other commercial establishments following months of quarantine. With new COVID-19 infections being recorded, it is considered paramount that safety measures are taken to ensure the continued good health of both consumers and workers. In response, the U.S. Labor Department is stepping up to bat.
U.S. Labor Department Inspections
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the U.S. Labor Department, sent out a memo on May 19 regarding expanding their workplace inspections. Previously, their inspections were focused on healthcare establishments in order to conserve resources. OSHA shall impose fines on any business establishment that violates any new workplace safety rules regarding COVID-19. They clarify, however, that any fines shall only take place after their official inspection and not due to reports or tips. OSHA would also like to remind employers to record COVID-19 as a workplace illness—a measure that would promote proactive safety rules in businesses.
CDC’s Workplace Health and Safety Plan
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also issuing workplace health and safety plans and guidelines to help businesses in the cusp of reopening. They recommend a thorough review of on-site heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. The CDC also recommends that businesses consider telecommuting for some employees to avoid workplace congestion. This is a measure that businesses like FVF Law are embracing by offering fully remote consultations. Smart safety protocols like using facial masks and social distancing indicators are also included in CDC’s guidelines.
The Role of Employers
Employers play a key part in lessening the risk of COVID-19 exposure for their employees and clients. Introducing proactive hygienic practices in the workplace like frequent hand-washing and regular disinfection of surfaces can boost an office’s safety, according to Melissa Nolan of the University of Carolina. She also recommends that employers promote the use of gloves and goggles to lessen the risk of contracting the virus. Leadership during this time is important and employers have a role to play in establishing safe practices in their workplaces.
Despite the continued rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the U.S. economy and the American public can no longer afford to stay at home. It is certainly comforting that local and national bodies are providing health and safety protocols to empower businesses and keep them and the public safe. It will take time to see how effective these protocols and inspections will be, but it is still a step in the right direction.