States Continue to Fine Businesses for Lack of COVID-19 Employee Training and Other Precautions

December 10, 2020

Several states, including Oregon and Michigan, continue to investigate employee complaints and levy substantial fines for the lack of COVID-19 safety precautions, including adequate employee training. To avoid similar penalties, Oregon employers must provide complaint COVID-19 employee training by the mandated deadline.

Michigan Fines Employers for Non-Compliant COVID-19 Training

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules require employers to provide employees with COVID-19 safety training. The Rules also specify the workplace safety topics that must be covered in training.

Recently, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) fined several businesses for failing to implement COVID-19 employee training. Many of these citations stem from employee complaints.

Not only were employers fined for a complete failure to provide employee training, some were cited for not training employees on all of the required training elements. For example, one business was cited for the lack of “adequate training” on how employees can protect themselves from COVID-19 in the workplace. Another business was fined for not maintaining records of the required COVID-19 training.

Since the pandemic began, MIOSHA has fined 44 businesses for failing to implement workplace safety measures to protect employees from COVID-19 exposure. The citations generally fall under MIOSHA’s “general duty clause” and can add up to as much as $7,000 in penalties.

Oregon Requires COVID-19 Employee Training by December 21

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) also continues to impose steep penalties on employers for ignoring workplace safety precautions.

Since November 9, 2020, Oregon OSHA has issued 50 citations to employers for violating COVID-19 workplace safety requirements. Penalties can range from $100 -$15,000, depending on the seriousness of the violation and whether the employer acted in willful disregard of the Oregon Safe Employment Act or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Last month, Oregon OSHA adopted COVID-19 Temporary Rules requiring nearly all Oregon employers to implement certain workplace safety measures. One of the mandated employee safeguards includes COVID-19 workplace training, which must be administered to employees by a specified date, depending on the business and activities involved.

COVID-19 Workplace Training

Employers who operate in states with COVID-19 training mandates should ensure that any COVID-19  training provided to their employees is fully compliant and covers all state-required training elements. Likewise, limiting employee exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace can assist in abating potential workers’ compensation and other employment liabilities.

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