Employees returning to work during pandemic

OSHA Arizona is helping workers and businesses get back on track
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Posted at 7:06 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 23:09:48-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — OSHA officials say they're getting regular calls about COVID-19 issues in the workplace. They're also offering a free service to help companies improve safety standards.

Jessie Atencio with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health says his office gets about 70 calls per week regarding COVID-19. Atencio also says workers should report issues if needed. On top of that businesses need to have their own plans in place including PPE for workers, basic training about COVID-19 protection and open communication with staff.

“There’s always the basic right that an employer is required to have a workplace that’s free from workplace hazards. When it comes to COVID in this sense it’s a recognized hazard, it’s a health hazard. It’s good to have a plan in place, something where they limit the number of people in a break room or area having alternating schedules or times when someone comes in,” Atencio said.

Right now OSHA has a program along staff designated to do free on-site training and consultation for businesses in both Tucson and Phoenix. The goal is to help give owners the tools needed to get their safety standards up to code. If an employer is under investigation owners have 5 business days to respond with a solution.

“The group has been doing virtual inspections where there’s no penalties and no sanctions and employers the ones what know about us are taking advantage as much as they can because the service is that good. If we come into a situation where we find that nothing is being done to prevent the spread of COVID. As in all cases employers may receive citations associated with a penalty for the hazard that we see in the workplace,” Atencio said.

Officials say it’s also a good idea to talk to employers both big and small and try to resolve the issue before filing a report.

“They can call or go on line to do that for us to review or launch an investigation or inspection,” Atencio said.

Information on OSHA consultation: []