As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch on, certain states have taken more official action towards preparing businesses for the long haul that might be in store. In fact, sixteen states now require employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training to their employees.
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remain the authorities on the best ways to handle COVID-related hazards, you still need to check your state laws for explicit employee training requirements related to COVID-19 workplace safety. More likely than not, your state’s requirements will differ from your neighboring states, including industry-specific training.
In order to keep your employees safe and minimize costly lawsuits, let’s discuss the process for developing a workplace safety training program- one that takes state legislation fully into account.
States That Require COVID-19 Workplace Safety Training
OSHA has made it clear that up-to-date education and training on risk factors related to the pandemic are primary defenses for your business. Despite this, only a fraction of states have fully safeguarded against COVID-19 with new, punishable compliance standards. As of this month, here are the states who have enacted official safety training rules:
- Maine (Retail)
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Remember that each of these states has their own distinct mandates on how to complete proper employee training, including what topics to cover. Some states require training to include instruction on reporting unsafe worksite conditions or understanding anti-retaliation protections—while others (California, for instance) focus more on informing employees of paid-leave benefits, hygiene practices and cleaning protocols. Be thorough in your approach to your state’s laws!
Primary Topics That Should Be Covered in Your COVID-19 Training (Even If It’s Not Required in Your State)
Regardless of whether or not your state is on the aforementioned list, you still need to be on the lookout for updated training standards to avoid liability. As you create your business’s individual safety program, consider the following categories:
- Ensuring a Hazard-Free Work Environment: OSHA and related state agencies require you to provide employees with a work environment free from known hazards. As exposure to COVID-19 presents a significant hazard, reinforcing social distancing standards between your employees and training them to recognize and report potential hazards are not matters to be taken lightly. Both federal and state agencies can enforce substantial penalties if you fail to take the appropriate steps to mitigate unsafe working conditions. That includes foregoing training with employees. Most states promote OSHA and CDC guidance for training your workforce on conducting workplace safety inspections and recommend updating these trainings regularly.
- Updates on Claims and Benefits: COVID-19 has challenged the issue of proving that an infection occurred in the workplace, prompting 14 states to extend workers' compensation coverage to include COVID-19-related illness. You need to ensure you train your employees properly on how their pay and benefits coverage will be impacted in the event that they contract COVID-19. Clearly explain your paid leave policies and make sure your workers are aware that they may be eligible for benefits if they are sick or symptomatic at any point during the pandemic.
- Thorough Training Around Operating Procedures: It may seem redundant, but educating your employees on workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protective equipment (such as wearing masks), and updated preventative measures are all necessary to avoid unnecessary COVID-19 cases and civil suits from your workers. Workplace litigation relating to COVID-19 has been on the rise, largely due to businesses not educating employees and enforcing the most current safety measures. You need to provide consistent training on social distancing and mask-wearing in order to avoid costly lawsuits from unhappy employees or fines from federal/state-level agencies.
These categories will help you avoid COVID-related lawsuits and have the most positive impact on how you train your employees moving forward.
COVID-19 Training with a Learning Management System (LMS)
Training your hourly workforce shouldn’t create more stress. In fact, it should do the opposite—and put you at ease knowing your employees are prepared to manage during the pandemic. EPAY Systems offers a Learning Management System that can help optimize this process.
Whether you’re covering COVID-related procedures, state-mandated training, or industry-specific safety protocols– EPAY can help you tackle training with over 10,000 ready-to-go courses. We can even help you maintain training records, track incomplete sessions, and create your own customized classes as well. Check out our blog post, “5 Ways to Use Your LMS to Keep Your Workers Safe” for more insight.