OSHA has issued interim guidance advising compliance officers to evaluate and consider an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, current infection control practices may limit the availability of employees, consultants, or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, inspections, testing, or other essential hygiene services. Business closures and other restrictions may also preclude employee participation in training if the trainers are unavailable and if access to medical testing facilities is limited or suspended.
Thus, during an inspection, compliance safety and health officers are being advised to assess the employer’s efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training, or assessments. Officers are to evaluate if the employer:
- Explored all options to comply with applicable standards (for example, the use of virtual training or remote communication strategies);
- Implemented interim alternative protections, such as engineering or administrative controls; and
- Rescheduled required annual activity as soon as possible.
OSHA will take good faith attempts to comply into strong consideration when determining whether to cite a violation. However, the agency may issue a citation if the employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply. Employers unable to comply with OSHA requirements due to business closure should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace. To ensure corrective actions are taken once normal activities resume, OSHA will develop a program to conduct monitoring inspections through randomized sampling of cases.
This guidance takes effect immediately and remains in effect until further notice. Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage frequently for updates at www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.