With more and more employees returning to the workplace following shutdowns prompted by the pandemic, it won’t be a big surprise when some workers contact OSHA to raise concerns about the steps being taken to protect them from the coronavirus.
Of course you don’t want OSHA snooping around your workplace looking for reasons to issue a hefty fine. That’s why it pays to be aware of what OSHA has been doing so far in response to employee coronavirus complaints.
Chances are that the agency will send you a letter shortly after the worker has submitted the complaint. The letter will detail the reasons for the complaint. OSHA will also ask for a response within a set time frame – usually about seven days.
Needless to say, it’s in your best interest to submit your reply letter within the allotted time frame. Your letter should explain in detail the steps you’re taking to safeguard your workforce. Also be sure to address the specific hazards mentioned in the employee’s complaint.
Employers that fail to respond to OSHA’s letter are taking a foolish risk. Here’s why: When OSHA initiates an inspection based on an employee complaint, the agency, by law, has to limit its checkup to the specific hazards mentioned in the complaint.
However, if the worker’s allegation involves potential COVID-19 exposure, OSHA will be legally allowed to expand its wall-to-wall inspection to the entire operation.
(From the May 4, 2020, issue of OSHA Compliance News. To download the rest of the issue for free, please click here.)