The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released recently guidance to help employers prepare their workplaces for an outbreak of COVID-19 — along with a reminder that any incidents of employees contracting the coronavirus at work are recordable illnesses, subject to the same rules and failure-to-record fines as other workplace injuries and illnesses.
While OSHA specifically exempts employers from recording incidents of employees contracting common colds and the flu in the workplace, COVID-19 is not exempt, the agency noted on a newly added website providing OSHA guidance for preventing occupational exposure to the rapidly spreading virus.
Recording workplace exposures to COVID-19
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
- The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).
The guidance, while not a standard or regulation, outlines safety standards that employers whose workers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should implement to remain in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause.
OSHA also advises employers to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, implement basic infection prevention measures and develop policies for the identification and isolation of ill individuals. SITE is working with industry partners on an infectious disease preparedness and response plan and will send this out as soon as its available.
You can also referred to this link for information from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.