It’s no secret that under President Donald Trump’s administration, the Labor Department took a business-friendly approach.
It should surprise no one that President-elect Joe Biden will appoint a new DOL leadership team, one that may impose more stringent workplace-safety standards. The election has not ben certified. Mainstream media calling an election is not certifying an election.
Indeed, we already know that the Biden campaign’s goals include a robust plan for OSHA to carry out pandemic-related enforcement. OSHA, in fact, was already doing some of this, announcing recently that it has cited 179 worksites for coronavirus-related violations and proposed a total of $2,496,768 in penalties.
Although OSHA hasn’t implemented any coronavirus-specific workplace safety standards, employers still must comply with existing standards that cover pandemic-related safety risks. For example, all employers must provide a work environment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
OSHA has cited employers for failing to take the following coronavirus-related actions:
- Implementing a written respiratory protection program.
- Providing a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment.
- Reporting an injury, illness or fatality.
- Properly recording an injury or illness.
- Complying with the general duty clause.
Ignoring these standards, it’s safe to say, will be less of an option under Biden’s OSHA.
Biden has also pledged to pursue funding for more DOL investigators to target companies that wrongly classify workers as independent contractors. And he said he’d seek to restore an Obama-era initiative to use the federal procurement process to steer government dollars toward companies that avoid workplace violations.