What It Means When Work Conditions Are Left Up To Employers

So far in the coronavirus pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the main regulating body for workplace conditions, has mostly left employers on their own. Now, both employers and employees find themselves grappling with confusion, anxiety, anger, and danger.

Aside from inspections in the healthcare and first response sectors, the agency has said they basically don’t have the capacity to inspect for coronavirus hazards. That means food service operations and the larger food supply chain will be left unchecked. 

The New York Times reported that OSHA had nonetheless received somewhere around 2,400 complaints about work conditions and the coronavirus. For most types of workplaces, OSHA isn’t enforcing reporting requirements for COVID-19 infections at all.

Essentially, it’s up to employers to enforce best practices for preventing customer, client, and employee coronavirus infections. It’s also up to employers to report infections and protect themselves from the whole world of liabilities this opens up. It’s worth noting that retail and industrial/agricultural workers are at a much higher risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The risks here are very real.


Take steps to protect your business

The stakes for employers are high, and the current circumstances are challenging to navigate. So earlier this month, we reached out to Christine Pham, a law partner at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP for guidance. Pham said it’s more important than ever for companies to have policies in place to reduce the spread and potential liabilities of COVID-19. That policy will look different for every business, but based on what we learned from Pham, it should cover a few central themes. 

  1. Make it clear that any employee who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home.  
  2. Address employees who are healthy but have a condition that places them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or employees who have a household member who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19. 
  3. Communicate via phone, email, text, or other electronic means rather than in person. If working remotely with company technology, take an inventory of company property and plan to get that equipment back.
  4. Set a schedule for disinfecting surfaces and make sure someone is accountable for disinfection.
  5. Provide protective equipment for essential employees when possible. 

That’s easier said than done, and especially challenging for employers who already have other jobs to do. That’s all of us. Maybe at some point in the future, we’ll all have designated remote work managers and health and safety officers or even the involvement of Certified Industrial Hygienists in every workplace. That day is not today, however. 

As these changes unfold, we have to keep working. We have to get our jobs done to keep our businesses thriving. Here’s where technology comes in.


You don’t have to do it alone

At Common Areas, our cloud-based software platform helps  businesses improve productivity and streamline operations to get more done, with less effort. It’s what we do best. Our collaborative solutions can streamline and simplify tracking many common processes. That’s why businesses of all sizes use Common Areas to manage work orders, site and facility inspections, asset and equipment tracking, office seat utilization, and task lists. 

We help businesses get their inventory in order, protect their properties, and prepare teams to thrive in a quickly changing business landscape. With our software, you can get intuitive, high-level reporting. Then, at a moment’s notice, you can also dive deep into ground level issues like cleaning practices and safety inspections. 

What’s become clear through this global health crisis is that it’s up to employers to keep their people safe. But with Common Areas, you can do that from just one platform while staying productive.

We’re here to talk about how we can work together. 

Let’s chat.


In response to the changing business landscape, Common Areas has released a Employee Work From Home Safely Inspection System, a new app to help businesses mitigate unforeseen operational and employment liabilities, keeping track of your remote business assets, and managing fluctuating capacities. Learn more here.