Employers can be cited for violating Occupational Safety and Health Act
During a coronavirus task force briefing Monday, President Trump said the administration would like to avoid making companies face liability if employees who are sent back to work contract the virus while on the job.
“We had tried to take liability away from these companies,” Trump said. “We just don’t want that. We want the companies to open, and to open strong.”
Trump said while there has been no discussion on the topic yet, “not one” business executive has expressed any specific concerns, but they have asked about general liability related to the virus.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, employers are required to provide their employees “a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can cite employers for violating the general duty clause if there is a recognized hazard and they do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate it. However, OSHA citations can only be based on standards, regulations, or the general duty clause.
In the event that an employee contracts the virus through exposure at work, New York law firm Seyfarth-Shaw says employees are entitled to receive “temporary total disability benefits in lieu of wages, reasonable and necessary medical treatment and an award for any resulting permanent disability.”