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What are my employer’s responsibilities?

This question is from a series of questions and answers on Worker Rights and Strategies for Staying Safe During COVID-19 created by National COSH to support workers during the pandemic.


Your employer has the legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace under OSHA and a contract if you have a union. This requires the employer to protect all workers from all known hazards, including infectious disease such as COVID-19. Employers are required to evaluate all worker exposures to determine the level of risk to COVID-19. Employers should have a written plan to describe how workers will be protected from the virus. This plan should include the following:

  • Prioritizing most effective control measures
  • Providing paid training and necessary, effective PPE at no cost to workers.

Federal OSHA and many State Plan OSHAs have failed to take adequate actions during the pandemic. We do not have to wait, however, for public agencies to respond. You and your co-workers have the right to develop a strategy and make sure you are protected from COVID-19. The first step is to become knowledgeable about the best protective measures for your type of workplace. Once you know the proper protections:

  • Review your employer’s plan
  • Demand changes where necessary, and
  • Insist that workers have an active role in making sure the plan is carried out correctly.