We continue our efforts to keep you informed of key legal developments relating to COVID-19. Today, we are providing updates on new work place safety guidance issued by both the State and OSHA.
As all of Illinois approaches Phase III of the State’s reopening plan, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (“DCEO”) has issued specific guidelines for ten distinct industries (see HERE). Guidelines have been issued for:
Guidelines for each industry consist of a PowerPoint highlighting best practices in areas of work place safety relevant to the industry. The DCEO also has prepared “toolkits” for each industry. These toolkits provide educational resources such as work place signage and safety checklists. If the guidelines present any questions about your reopening plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
In last week’s update (see HERE), we highlighted that OSHA has been receiving a large number of complaints related to COVID-19. As businesses begin to consider and prepare plans to reopen, it is important to take steps to ensure worker safety and minimize potential employer liability. While there had been a general lack of detailed protocols from federal authorities in prior weeks and months, new guidance was recently released by several key federal and state agencies, which provide information on best practices for business reopening plans. These include:
Each of these recently-issued resources provide information to consider while planning a safe reopening of business. Below we highlight several provisions from the OSHA publication, given OSHA’s already significant investigation activities.
Foremost, OSHA lists the following “Steps All Employers Can Take to Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure to COVID-19.”
It should be noted that this recent OSHA guidance also includes significant discussion on how employers can classify the level of risk to its employees based on that employer’s work activities, which will then inform steps that can and should be taken to protect employees. The level of risk depends in part on the industry type, the need for contact within six feet of people known or suspected of being infected, the requirement for repeated contact, and other factors. The risk levels are broken into four groups: Very High Exposure Risk; High Exposure; Medium Exposure Risk; and Lower Exposure Risk, with most workers likely to fall in the lower-to-medium range.
OSHA encourages businesses to determine the level of risk to its employees under this guidance and review the recommended steps for its determined level when considering and preparing exposure control plans.
We will continue to keep you updated on further developments. However, do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about any of this information, concerns about liability or compliance issues, or need assistance regarding employment matters or OSHA investigations.
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Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Gery Chico, Jon Leach and Alpita Shah