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OSHA COVID-19 Employer Citations

Employers cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Covid-19-related violations of workplace safety regulations are challenging the federal allegations at a rate nearly five times higher than the average for all types of safety violations.  About 42% of the 408 workplaces cited by the OSHA are appealing the allegations. Annually, only about 8% of all OSHA citation cases are contested by appealing to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.  Attorneys who often represent employers in OSHA inspection appeals say there are several reasons motivating businesses, mostly health-care providers, to contest the allegations. Many employers believe their Covid-19 infection prevention efforts were the best they could accomplish given last year’s surge of Covid-19 cases and shortages of protective gear, such as respirators.  There are also concerns that not appealing OSHA allegations could leave employers more vulnerable to civil lawsuits from workers and their families who claim their Covid-19 infections occurred on the job. Employers may dispute OSHA conclusions that an infection occurred at work and demand that the agency prove the assertion in court.  Resolution of the appeals could take months to years. If a settlement isn’t reached, the appeal could go to administrative law judge for a decision. That decision could be taken up by the commission’s three members before a final order is issued and the review commission’s decision may be appealed to federal circuit courts.