As states begin reopening their economies, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has issued two revised enforcement policies to ensure employers are acting to protect their employees. The policies provide guidance on recording cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and an interim enforcement response plan. The policies became effective on May 26, 2020, and replace memos previously issued by OSHA.
The following is an overview of the revisions:
- Updated interim enforcement response plan—OSHA will return to in-person inspections in many workplaces now that personal protective equipment potentially needed for inspections is more widely available. OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OSHA has historically done. While many states have deemed construction an essential business, the new enforcement guidance reflects changing circumstances in which many nonessential businesses have begun to reopen. According to OSHA’s COVID-19 risk matrix, construction industry work generally falls into the lower risk category with some operations or tasks falling into the medium risk category.
- Revised enforcement guidance for recording cases of COVID-19—OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. However, OSHA continues to acknowledge that, in many instances, it remains difficult to determine whether a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. Regarding determining the recordability of a confirmed case, OSHA’s guidance emphasizes that employers must put forth an effort, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a case of coronavirus is work-related.
In particular, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of the coronavirus, if the case:
- Is confirmed as a coronavirus illness;
- Is work-related; and
- Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
For more information, review OSHA’s news release on the revised enforcement policies for the coronavirus.