What to Expect from OSHA in a Biden Administration
By Seyfarth Shaw LLP on November 20, 2020
Seyfarth Synopsis: As the prospects of a likely Biden administration develop a key question becomes what should employers expect from OSHA under Biden? A COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, aggressive enforcement, and a shift in priorities.
We predict OSHA’s priorities in a Biden administration based on campaign talking points, the Democratic House’s actions in the past two years, and experience from the Obama administration.
COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard
Employers can expect OSHA under Biden to direct resources to issuing a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Most OSHA jurisdictions do not have a specific COVID-19 standard. However, some states have promulgated COVID-19 specific standards. State-plan OSHA agencies in Virginia, Oregon, and Michigan have each adopted COVID-19 standards that are likely to provide a good indication of what requirements a federal OSHA ETS might include:
- developing and implementing a preparedness and response plan;
- social distancing;
- practicing proper hygiene and other infection control measures;
- assessing exposure risks;
- notifying public health departments about positive employee tests;
- recordkeeping; and
States that have implemented a COVID-19 ETS have mandated that employers provide training, signage, and other types of employee communications in languages common to employee populations, and OSHA could follow suit. Biden appointed a COVID advisory commission on November 9, and a Biden administration OSHA will likely hit the ground running on January 20, 2021 working toward an ETS.
Aggressive Use of Citations and Enforcement
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