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OSHA Still Applies in a Pandemic

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is the governmental agency that oversees the law requiring employers to provide a safe workplace to its workers.  Generally, if you are a private employer in the State of Minnesota, you are required to provide a safe workplace that complies with OSHA.  That requirement – of providing a safe workplace to your workers – still is required for an pandemic, such as COVID-19.

Businesses in Minnesota are under the jurisdiction of Minnesota OSHA (unless you are a federal agency, the United States Postal Service, etc.).  Even so, those employers under the jurisdiction of Minnesota OSHA have to comply with the federal OSHA standards that apply to their business and those standards outlined in Minnesota statutes and rules.  This article highlights several requirements under Minnesota OSHA.

Under Minnesota law, businesses with specific NACIS (North American Industrial Classification System) codes must create and implement “A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction (AWAIR) program.  For example, many farming operations, retail trade, and construction businesses in Minnesota are required to have an AWAIR program.

Minnesota requires that an employer provides and pays for all personal protective equipment (PPE) in order for employers to safely perform their jobs.  However, please note in Minnesota that PPE can only be used if the employer has implemented all feasible engineering and administrative controls and work practices that are not enough to adequately protect employees without the use of PPE.

Minnesota businesses with more than 25 employees have to have a safety committee.  Also, if your business had either a lost workday case incidence rate in the top 10% of all rates in that industry or a workers’ compensation premium classification rate in the top 25% of premium rates for all classes, you also must have a safety committee.  The safety committee has specific responsibilities under Minnesota law.  An example is that for some employers with a certain worker’s compensation insurance experience modification factor or a certain worker’s compensation premium rate they are required to have their safety committee conduct at least quarterly workplace safety and health surveys.

All employers with 11 or more full and part-time employees have to comply with OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements regardless of industry or NAICS code.  Minnesota provides free training three times per year on OSHA recordkeeping.  You can locate the training information at: http://www.dli.mn.gov/business/workplace-safety-and-health/mnosha-compliance-recordkeeping-standard.  Please note that your OSHA recordkeeping requirements are not fulfilled if you report a claim to your worker’s compensation carrier.  The OSHA recordkeeping requirements are a stand-alone requirement.

Under Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-40, issued on April 23, 2020, before workers can return to work at a Non-Critical Exempt Business under that Executive Order, each business is required to establish and implement a “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” to protect the safety of their workers.  The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has provided a template and instructions at:  https://www.dli.mn.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/COVID_19_business_plan_template.pdf.

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP assists business owners with complying with and responding to the rapidly changing requirements as a result of COVID-19.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.