With the COVID-19 curve flattening, employers around the country are preparing to resume business operations and bring employees back to the workplace. Of the many unique challenges employers face in the wake of the novel coronavirus, few are as important as maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is in everyone’s best interest, as it will boost employee morale, establish trust and confidence among coworkers and the public, and allow businesses to emerge from this unprecedented public health crisis stronger and more prepared for the future.
Employers should take active steps to educate employees on COVID-19 risk factors and preventive behaviors by providing comprehensive training and resources. Federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state agencies such as the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) have released helpful guidance on COVID-19 training that employers should consider using for training employees upon their return to work.
OSHA’s guidance suggests that the following topics be covered when training employees on COVID-19:
On May 14, 2020, Cal/OSHA released the most robust training guidance currently available to employers. In addition to training issues suggested by OSHA, Cal/OSHA lists the following areas for COVID-19 training:
It is important to note the above interim guidance from OSHA and Cal/OSHA does not impose new legal obligations, as existing federal and California regulations currently require employers to train workers on infection prevention and new workplace hazards. Rather, the suggested COVID-19 training topics are offered to help employers meet their obligation of reducing the risks associated with COVID-19 as employees begin to return to the workplace.
California is not alone in addressing this issue, as other states, such as Vermont, are beginning to require employers to provide COVID-19 training to employees as part of statewide reopening procedures. If you are unsure as to the requirements in your state, please consult with employment counsel for additional information.
Foley has created a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team, which has prepared a wealth of topical client resources and is prepared to help our clients meet the legal and business challenges that the coronavirus outbreak is creating for stakeholders across a range of industries. Click here for Foley’s Coronavirus Resource Center to stay apprised of relevant developments, insights and resources to support your business during this challenging time. To receive this content directly in your inbox, click here and submit the form.