By Robert G. Chadwick, Jr. , Partner, Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP.
In the wake of the COVID-19 threat, many employees are working from improvised home work sites. So, what does this mean for OSHA compliance and enforcement?
In 2000, OSHA issued a Directive which purports to answer this question.
Inspections of Home Offices
Under the Directive, OSHA clarified that it would not conduct inspections as to office work activities in a home-based work site. Such activities include filing, scanning, copying, printing, telephone calls, reading, writing and computer work. The Directive states: “OSHA will not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices, and does not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees.”
Inspections of Other Home Work Sites
The Directive nevertheless states: “OSHA will .. conduct inspections of other home-based worksites, such as home manufacturing operations, when OSHA receives a complaint or referral that indicates that a violation of a safety or health standard exists that threatens physical harm, or that an imminent danger exists, including reports of a work-related fatality.” The directive adds: “Employers are responsible in home work sites for hazards caused by materials, equipment, or work processes which the employer provides or requires to be used in an employee’s home.”
Injury and Illness Reporting
The limitations on OSHA inspections do not affect the reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses. In this regard, the Directive states: “Employers who are required, because of their size or industry classification, by the OSH Act to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses, will continue to be responsible for keeping such records, regardless of whether the injuries occur in a factory, in a home office, or elsewhere, as long as they are work-related and meet the [applicable] recordability criteria …”
Robert G. Chadwick, Jr. frequently speaks to non-profit organizations regarding occupational safety and health issues. To contact him for a speaking engagement, please e-mail him at email@example.com.