OSHA issued a news release on May 19th regarding COVID-19. The release addresses two revised policies to make sure employers are protecting employees:

    1. Increased in-person inspections
    2. The policy for recording cases of COVID-19

Policy 1

The first revised policy addresses enforcement. OSHA expects to receive complaints from employees who believe they are being asked to perform job duties in unsafe conditions. These complaints could come from lack of PPE or being asked to work too closely with others while unprotected or many other reasons.

In any event, it is important to look at work from a new angle and address employee exposure to COVID-19. Below is OSHA’s General Duty Clause – Section 5, paragraphs a-1 & 2 and b. Notice paragraph a is for employers and paragraph b is for employees.
 
(a) Each employer-

    1. Shall furnish to each of his employees 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 to his employees;
    2. Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

(b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

 

Policy 2

The second revised policy addresses work-relatedness and how the employer makes the determination. OSHA will assess the employer’s efforts to determine work-relatedness. OSHA lists several considerations Compliance Officers will take when they evaluate the employer. Those considerations are listed in the attached memorandum.

We encourage you to use the memorandum as a guide to help you determine if an employee’s COVID-19 case is work-related or not. This due diligence may pay off in preventing more employees and clients from becoming ill and quickly answering questions of work-relatedness.

If you have questions or need help, please contact one of our risk consultants.

 

Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources and information.