Reed Smith Client Alerts

As communities and businesses continue to grapple with the practical and legal implications of COVID-19, several safety, health, and environmental agencies have issued guidance for U.S. employers and the general public regarding compliance obligations and potential mitigation to address the infectious disease. Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) have issued guidance regarding potential workplace hazards resulting from exposure to COVID-19, which incorporates the more detailed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its list of registered disinfectants to fight COVID-19. This article discusses the content and implications of the new guidance.

Authors: Benjamin H. Patton Todd O. Maiden

Background

As communities and businesses continue to grapple with the practical and legal implications of COVID-19, several safety, health, and environmental agencies have issued guidance regarding employers’ compliance obligations and potential mitigation to address the infectious disease. Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) have issued guidance regarding potential workplace hazards resulting from exposure to COVID-19. This guidance, in turn, incorporates more detailed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its list of registered disinfectants for use against COVID-19. 

Federal OSHA

Federal OSHA, which regulates worker health and safety in the 22 states that do not have their own approved state plans, has published guidance regarding the protection of workers from COVID-19. Although the agency has not promulgated a regulation that specifically addresses COVID-19, it identifies several regulatory standards that apply to the protection of workers from infectious disease hazards, including:

  • 29 C.F.R. 1910, subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • 29 C.F.R. 1910, subpart J – General Environmental Controls
  • 29 C.F.R. 1910, subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances
  • 29 C.F.R. 1904 – Recordkeeping and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
  • Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act – General Duty Clause