Ho, Ho, Health and Safety! Keeping Workers Safe and Merry this Holiday Season

Seyfarth Synopsis: The U.S. Department of Labor Tweeted and blogged about the safety of workers during the busy holiday season, indicating an area of potential enforcement for OSHA in the coming weeks.

Unsurprisingly, OSHA has targeted workplace transmission of COVID-19 as a top holiday safety and health concern. All employers who are bringing on additional or temporary workers for the holidays must exercise additional care in their implementation of COVID-19 controls and prevention measures. In light of an anticipated surge in cases due to increased hiring of seasonal workers, as well as non-work-related family and social gatherings, OSHA updated its guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated guidance follows OSHA’s new Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccines, Testing, and Face Coverings pending before the 6th Circuit.

Even before COVID-19, crowd management has always been a holiday concern. If large crowds are expected for holiday shopping events, employers should plan ahead and take steps to protect employees. The DOL has crowd management guidance to help employers prevent worker injuries during crowded shopping events.

In addition, for those employers hiring new or temporary workers for the holidays, it’s important to “train them for the risks they may encounter on the job“ – including how to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. Importantly, be sure to know the rules that apply to teen workers if employing anyone under 18. DOL also stresses that it is imperative that every worker is trained in a language they can understand and be encouraged to raise any health or safety concerns to their supervisor without fear of retaliation.

Concerning warehousing, distribution, and delivery hazards, the DOL has updated its guidance for keeping employees safe, including:

We have blogged before on this and similar topics before: OSHA Guidelines for Retailers on Holiday Shopping and Crowd Management Safety, Have Yourself a Safe, Undistracted, and Accident Free Holiday, and Don’t Let Too Much Eggnog Ruin Your Office Holiday Party: Tips to Limit Employer Liability at Company Parties.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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