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86 of 3,567
OSHA issues new COVID-19 guidance
Publisher:
Construction Dive
Washington, DC, USA
Media, Construction
Author: 
Kim Slowey
Date Published: 
2020-05-29
Keywords: 
COVID-19, Construction, Worker Safety, Health, Wellness
Tapestry Statistics:
ID: 
3674
Added: 
2020-05-30 04:41:30
Updated: 
2020-05-30 04:46:35
Content Score: 
10.11
Profile Views: 
32
Click Throughs: 
3
Image:
OSHA
Excerpt:
Dive Brief:

OSHA has issued two new pieces of enforcement guidance for employers, one for recording COVID-19 cases and the other regarding its plans for onsite inspections. Both are limited to the duration of the current novel coronavirus public health crisis.

The agency said employers must record a case if the employee's illness is diagnosed as COVID-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); is work related; and meets one or more of OSHA's general recording criteria — death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness or a diagnosis considered significant by a physician or other health care professional.

In the other directive, OSHA said that in areas of the United States where the spread of COVID-19 has decreased, it will return to its pre-pandemic inspection policy but that it will continue to prioritize coronavirus cases; will use phone, fax and rapid response inspections where appropriate; and will ensure that inspectors take all safety precautions when dealing with COVID-19 cases. In areas still experiencing high levels of COVID-19 cases, OSHA will continue to prioritize high-risk workplaces for onsite inspections.

Dive Insight:
In its latest guidance to employers, OSHA acknowledged that it could be difficult to determine whether employees diagnosed with COVID-19 were exposed at work or elsewhere, so the agency went into more detail than it previously has about how employers should approach that determination. OSHA said COVID-19 illnesses are likely work related if:
  • Multiple cases develop among those who work closely together and there is no alternative explanation.
  • An employee contracts the illness shortly after "lengthy and close" exposure to a customer or coworker who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 and there is no alternative explanation.
  • Job duties include frequent, close exposure to the general public in a locality with ongoing community transmission and there is no alternative explanation.
Cases of COVID-19 are likely not work related if:
  • An employee is the only employee in the work area to contract the illness and does not have frequent contact with the general public.
  • An employee, outside the workplace, has frequent and close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and that person is not a coworker and likely exposed the employee while infectious.
  • If after a "good-faith" evaluation, an employer still can't come to a conclusion as to whether a case is work related, then it does not have to record the illness.
The main difference between this and previous guidance about reporting COVID-19 cases, according to attorney Phillip Russell with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart in Tampa, Florida, is that OSHA is reinstating enforcement of recordkeeping related to COVID-19. The work-related requirement remains, and the agency added clarification that a one-person infection is not likely to be work related. Employers, he said, also have some flexibility with the requirement if they make a reasonable determination based upon objective evidence available at the time.

"None of this changes the underlying difficulty in making a work-related determination," Russell said. "This additional guidance provides a roadmap for employers to make that determination based on reasonable efforts and objective information."​
Organizations Mentioned: (2)
CDC | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Government, Health and Wellness