Guess who’s watching to make sure you don’t unduly expose your employees to the coronavirus?
When one thinks of the kind of unsafe working conditions that OSHA is concerned with preventing, a COVID-19 breeding ground may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
But when it comes to ensuring the safety of the work environment, the agency is worried about a lot more than just adequate fall protection and compliant lockout-tagout procedures.
As we all know, when the pandemic hit, everything changed. That includes the kind of unsafe work environments the feds are looking to crack down on.
More specifically, OSHA is now ready, willing and able to punish employers who create unsafe working conditions by unduly exposing their employees to the risk of coronavirus infection.
Case in point: In early October of this year, OSHA issued a citation to a Denver employer, saying it did not safely distance employees from one another.
It also found that the employer did not implement a health and safety plan.
And it determined that the employer permitted symptomatic workers to remain on the job.
That’s a big no-no.
OSHA said the Fred Loya Insurance agency needlessly exposed employees to co-workers who were showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Based in Texas, Fred Loya operates more than 500 agencies across several states.
Those states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Texas.
To abate the hazard, OSHA said the employer could:
- Make sure employees practice social distancing
- Keep symptomatic employees out of the workplace until they test negative, and
- Have employees wear face masks.
The employer faces $23,406 in proposed penalties.
Following the issuance of the citation, Fred Loya has a number of options available to it.
First, it could choose to comply.
Second, it could ask for an informal conference with an OSHA area director.
Third, it could choose to contest the citation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.