Updated 6/4/2020:

OSHA recommends businesses take steps to protect workers. Doing so could prevent illness, temporary business closures and workers compensation claims. Multiple COVID-19 cases in a business could indicate the business did little to protect workers, leading to workers compensation claims and possibly OSHA investigations.

The CDC recommends businesses have a COVID-19 Action/Response Plan to prevent the spread of COVID – 19, and OSHA is likely to check for such a plan if they investigate. Below are five response plan templates to help companies make their workplaces safer. The 5 types of plans are:

Employers can select the plan that best fits their business type and make adjustments to the plan as needed. The chosen plan can become part of the company’s Emergency Response Plan for other types of emergencies such as, fire and hurricane, tornado. Don’t forget to conduct risk assessments for the different employee positions.


 

Original post:

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.

Update: As noted above, the General Duty Clause sets the expectation for employers to protect their employees. OSHA has recognized the CDC has provided interim guidance to help prevent workplace exposure to COVID – 19 in non-healthcare settings. Employers should respond in a way that takes into account the level of disease transmission in their communities and revise their business response plans as needed. Click on the link to see 5 response plan templates to help companies make their workplaces safer. Employers can select the plan that best fits their business type and make adjustments to the plan as needed. The chosen plan can become part of the company’s Emergency Response Plan to other types of emergencies such as, fire and hurricane, tornado. Don’t forget to conduct risk assessments for the different employee positions. The 5 types of plans are: Construction, General Industry, Manufacturing, Retail and Restaurant & Bar.

 

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.

For a more in-depth explanation, read here.

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.