On May 1, 2020, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued guidance specific to the food and beverage industry addressing industry standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  OSHA is advising restaurants (including those only offering take-out and curbside pickup) to adopt the following practices:

  • Display signs on the doors or in front of the building informing customers of the services being offered (ex: take-out only), the hours of operations, and instructions for placing orders;
  • Reserve parking spots exclusively for “curbside pickup parking only” near the front entrance of the establishment;
  • Avoid direct hand-offs of food, moneys, and other items where possible;
  • Encourage customers to pay ahead by phone or online;
  • Practice social distancing between employees and customers by:
    • using tape to mark 6 foot distances in customer pickup lines; and
    • temporarily moving workstations to increase space between them;
  • Build plexiglass partitions around workstations where feasible;
  • Train employees on proper hygiene procedures;
  • Provide places for employees to wash hands and apply hand sanitizer made of at least 60% alcohol;
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often with cleaning products approved to kill the coronavirus;
  • Allow employees to wear masks or other face coverings;
  • Instruct employees to stay home when sick; and
  • Advise employees to report any health or safety concerns.

Under the General Duty clause of the Act, employers are required to protect employees from “foreseeable harm.” In enforcing this provision, OSHA expects employers to comply with “industries standards” which may come from a variety of sources.  By issuing their own standards, OSHA has made it clear what steps they expect restaurants and bars to take to protect their employees.  Accordingly, employers in the food and beverage industry should adopt any feasible recommendations provided by OSHA that they have not already implemented.

The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.


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Tim represents management in all areas of labor and employment law.