It is the employer’s duty to protect workers from potential exposures. The General Duty Clause of The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Employers can be cited for violation of the General Duty Clause if a recognized serious hazard exists in their workplace and the employer does not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard. The General Duty Clause is used only where there is no other standard that applies to a particular hazard.
The following elements are necessary to prove a violation of the General Duty Clause:
1. The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed;
2. The hazard was recognized;
3. The hazard was causing or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm; and
4. There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.
5. See https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2003-12-18-1
If an employee with COVID-19 comes to work and infects others, this could be a violation of the General Duty Clause and might lead to a violation if the hazard was recognized and not corrected. It is the company’s obligation to remove that person from the workspace (send them home immediately and don’t let them come back to work until they are well), quarantine their workspace, and have the building thoroughly disinfected.