The National Sea Grant Law Center


Categories: “Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)”

  • Additional Rights for Employees of Offshore Seafood Processing Facilities Who Test Positive for COVID-19
  • September 2nd, 2020 — by Daniel Stein — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 at food processing facilities have led employees to file suit against large companies like Tyson and Smithfield for state law claims of public nuisance and breach of duty to provide a safe workplace. Of the 3.4 million food processing employees, about 250,000 work in seafood processing, though most of those workers are employed on land-based facilities. Workers at seafood processing facilities that operate offshore on vessels, however, may be entitled to additional remedies after getting sick if they qualify as Jones Act seamen.

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  • OSHA Revises Rule Concerning Employee Medical Records
  • August 11th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • In the world of COVID-19, it seems that information constantly is changing, and many do not know how to proceed forward. OSHA and the CDC have issued guidance to help employers provide a safe and healthful workplace for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though OSHA has issued proactive recommendations on how to control the spread of COVID-19, many workers are concerned about their working conditions. The agency has received thousands of COVID-19-related workplace health and safety complaints and, in response, the agency has opened investigations into these allegations. Part of the OSHA investigation process includes the examination of employee records. In the wake of COVID-19, one big question employers have been asking is how to handle disclosure of employee medical records.

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  • Potential Workplace Spread of COVID-19: Could OSHA Be Liable?
  • August 3rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • One of the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been balancing the need for essential infrastructure workers to continue working with workplace health and safety concerns. Employers have a general duty to keep the workplace free from recognized hazards and comply with the regulations promulgated by OSHA. OSHA and the CDC have issued joint guidance for returning to work safely and sector-specific guidelines for those workers particularly at risk. Despite calls for OSHA to take regulatory action to protect workers from COVID-19, the agency has relied on voluntary guidelines. Over 6,000 COVID-19-related OSHA complaints have been filed, but OSHA has issued few citations to employers. Now, workers are taking action into their own hands.

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  • When Workers Are Required to Quarantine before Returning to Work, Who Pays?
  • July 23rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • Workplace health and safety is a top priority to both employers and employees as they go back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are at risk of litigation if they do not comply with the recommendations and guidelines issued by the CDC, OSHA, and state and local officials. Employers are also at risk if they do comply with these COVID-19 mandates and guidance. Some employers are mandating that workers quarantine before returning to work. Workers forfeit their personal time and mobility when they submit to mandatory quarantining. Does quarantining qualify as so essential to the job function that the workers deserve pay for the time, or is it part of weighing the costs and benefits of wanting to return to earning a paycheck? The financial determination of whether or not to pay workers for time in quarantine is not clear.

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  • PPE: The New Norm
  • July 6th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • PPE has become a household term during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your family is like mine, you might even have a PPE station by your backdoor to make sure you are prepared whenever you go out. We are all taking precautions to ward off the virus and help slow the spread. Even though PPE is new to most of our vocabulary, personal protective equipment—PPE’s proper name—is not a new concept when it comes to workplace safety. OSHA has enforced workplace safety standards requiring PPE as a mechanism to mitigate worker exposure to workplace hazards that can not be eliminated entirely. As America goes back to work, many employers who never before had to consider a need for PPE must do so to combat the risk of COVID-19.

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  • Workplace Safety and COVID-19 on Vessels: Who’s in Charge?
  • June 23rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • In early June, 94 of 126 crew members aboard the F/V American Dynasty tested positive for COVID-19. Despite precautions taken to avoid such an outbreak, the fishing industry and others who make their living working on boats are facing serious challenges responding to COVID-19. It’s hard to imagine crew members being able to consistently stay six feet apart while hauling in nets, for example.

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  • Workplace Safety Standards Amidst COVID-19
  • June 17th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued standards and guidelines for employers to address workplace safety and health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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