The summer heat and bugs can become legal liabilities for employers who do not comply with federal and state regulations to protect employees against outdoor hazards, including mosquito-borne disease and heat stress. These federal agency warnings could become evidence used in civil lawsuits to show that companies have some sort of duty to protect their workers and others from these natural conditions. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its guidance from last year on the dangers and employer responsibilities relating to the Zika virus, making recommendations specifically tailored for employers and workers in environments that may present an increased risk for Zika exposure, such as outdoor workers, health care and laboratory workers, and mosquito control workers. Among other things, OSHA says employers should inform workers about their risks of exposure; provide insect repellents and encourage workers to use them; ensure workers wear clothing that covers their hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin; periodically inspect work sites to identify and eliminate sources of standing water; and if requested, consider reassigning to indoor tasks any female worker who is pregnant or whose sexual partner is pregnant or may become pregnant. According to OSHA, depending on a particular worker's assignment and environment, several agency standards could apply to Zika concerns, including the Requirements for Personal Protective Equipment, the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, and the Safety Training and Education standard.
Lexology (07/12/17) Chajet, Henry; Fagan, Kaileigh