With construction sites and many businesses reopening in all states, OSHA has issued new guidance for employers for recording COVID-19 cases.
Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness. Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19:
• If the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
• The case is work-related, and
• If it involves one or more of the general recording criteria – death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.
According to OSHA, when determining whether an employer has complied with this obligation and made a reasonable determination of work-relatedness, CSHOs should apply the following considerations:
1. The reasonableness of the employer’s investigation into work-relatedness.
Since most employers lack the resources to initiate extensive medical inquiries, and the concern for privacy issues, OSHA states it is sufficient in most circumstances for the employer, when it learns of an employee’s COVID-19 illness, (1) to ask the employee how he believes he contracted the COVID-19 illness; (2) while respecting employee privacy, discuss with the employee his work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness; and (3) review the employee’s work environment for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The review in (3) should be informed by any other instances of workers in that environment contracting COVID-19 illness.
2. The evidence available to the employer.
Trying to determine if a COVID-19 illness was work-related is no easy task. To ease some concern, OSHA suggests employers rely on the information reasonably available at the time it made its work-relatedness determination. Any additional information learned later, then that information should be considered as well
3. The evidence that a COVID-19 illness was contracted at work.
All reasonably available evidence should be reviewed to determine whether an employer has complied with its recording obligation. Certain types of evidence may weigh in favor of or against work-relatedness.
To help determine this, there are a number of factors to consider, such as the number of cases among workers, the length and close exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the job duties that may have frequent, close exposure to the general public in a location with known cases, the work done in an area with confirmed community spread, and if there is close proximity and frequency with family members who has COVID-19, are all factors to when trying to determine if COVID-19 was work-related or not.
If the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a case of COVID-19, the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness.
Stay on the Safe Side
The recording requirements can be a bit murky. Failure to comply can lead to penalties and fines. We offer two Safety Service Options to help you manage the potential exposure:
COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.
COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.
If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.