Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

Sixteen states, including New York, require employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training to employees. Even in states where training is not explicitly required, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, employers should consider providing COVID-19 workplace safety training. The Occupational Safety and Health Act and related state laws require employers to provide a workplace free from “known hazards” that are “likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

Exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace could constitute a workplace “known hazard” if the job requires physical interaction with the public or close contact with other employees. By way of example, a lawsuit was recently filed by employees of several Chicago restaurants. The employees claimed the restaurants acted negligently and created a public nuisance by failing to correctly train employees on social distancing and to enforce face-covering. The employees established that the possibility of COVID-19 infection and subsequent injury in the workplace was “highly probable,” causing the court to issue a preliminary injunction. The injunction required the restaurants to provide employee training on social distancing and to enforce face-covering requirements.

COVID-19 workplace safety training should include:

  • CDC and OSHA workplace safety protocols,
  • All state-mandated training elements and workplace safety protocols and
  • Review of all employer workplace safety policies and practices including wearing of masks, occupancy restrictions, temperature testing, restrictions on in-person client/customer meetings etc.

Employers should keep a written record of all who attend safety training. If you are interested in conducting COVID-19 workplace safety training, please contact Susan L. Swatski, Esq. at sswatski@hillwallack.com; we are providing both in-person and virtual training.