Jacob Stone jstone@smsm.com
312.645.7827
Jacob Stone is an associate attorney in the firm’s Chicago office. Focusing his practice in toxic tort, Mr. Stone has extensive experience in legal research and writing …

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Re-Opening States and Businesses and the Role OSHA May Play

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As a handful of states declare their intentions to lift stay-at-home orders and allow some or all businesses to re-open, the federal government has largely taken a hands-off approach, citing federalism and a deference to governors who better understand the threat of COVID-19 in their respective states. While President Trump and his medical experts have warned that re-opening for business is ill-advised, some states seem determined to ignore the warnings and do just that.  Yet, even if states allow businesses to re-open, state government lacks the power of course to force individual businesses to open, employees to go to work or the public to patronize open businesses. These are all difficult personal decisions, balancing economic needs and the perceived threat to one’s personal health and the health of others. One factor that has not received much attention but that could impact the economic component of the equation, not to mention the role of the federal government in state and business owner decisions, is the potential for OSHA to get involved if it feels that employers who elect to conduct business are failing to adequately protect employees. The idea is hardly far-fetched, as OSHA has already published influenza pandemic guidelines. This article will review those guidelines, how they could be modified to apply to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential impact OSHA might have on business owner decisions whether to re-open for business during an ongoing pandemic.  More »

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