OSHA Enforcement Discretion: What This Means for the Workplace

Posted by
Candace Amos
on Apr 20, 2020

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COVID-19 has altered the way businesses operate around the country and the world. If your company is still operating, then you mostlikey have had to adjust your procedures, operating hours, and more just to air on the side of caution. OSHA has not ceased its efforts to enforce heatlh and safety in the workplace, but, it has acted to avoid imposing stringent citations on businesses operating "in good faith" during this time.

On April 16, 2020, OSHA released an enforcement memo detailing this approach to avoid penalizing businesses who are unable to conform to all applicable regulations. This enforcement, however, does not give businesses a "pass" to intentionally allow unsafe conditions to exist. They must show that they have acted "in good faith" to keep employees safe and remain in compliance, even if that means adjusting normal operating procedures.

The memo goes on to explain that, "CSHOs (Compliance Safety and Health Officers) should evaluate whether the employer thoroughly explored all options to comply with the applicable standard(s)". For example, if a business uses gloves for certain processes and can no longer access the necessary PPE due to shortages, have they considered administrative or engineering contols to protect employees? If not, and they continue to allow workers to perform the same job task without proper protective measures, the company is NOT acting in good faith and could be penalized. For furhter clarification, OSHA offers an Annex section at the end of the memo with examples where enforcement discretion should be used.

In the event that a violation is found at a jobsite and OSHA decides not issue a citation, this should not be taken as a "pass" like noted earlier. OSHA will be enacting a monitoring program to revisit these sites once normal operations resume to confirm whether noted violations were mitigated. Workplaces should keep this in mind and have a plan to reinstate compliance measures as soon as possible. 

Though the pandemic has had a huge impact on business as usual, it's important to have a plan to continue operations without endangering employees and make a true effort to uphold regulatory requirements. Although OSHA is taking measures to help businesses, it is also the busniess's obligation to operate responsibly.  SafetyPro has safety specialists ready to help businesses with their safety needs during this difficult time. For more information, click below to contact us today!

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Tags: Workplace safety, Compliance, safety and health

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