OSHA’s New COVID-19 Requirements
By: Shannon Corgan, Director of Marketing
Previously, the OSHA documentation for work-related COVID-19 illnesses was only required for the health care industry, emergency response organizations, and correctional institutions. OSHA’s new COVID-19 guidance went into effect on May 26th. Now, all employers regardless of industry are responsible for recording work-related COVID-19 illnesses on an OSHA 300 Form. In addition to the new OSHA recording requirement, OSHA is also increasing its in-person inspections to help ensure the safety of American workers during the pandemic.
Which COVID-19 Illnesses Do I have to Document?
Under its new recordkeeping requirements for OSHA, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers must record cases of COVID-19 for the following reasons:
- is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness
- is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5 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.
How to determine if it’s work-related
Because COVID-19 is so easily transmittable before an employee shows symptoms, OSHA is simply asking employers to make a reasonable effort to determine if the exposure might be work-related. Reasonable efforts include:
- Asking the employee limited questions about how he or she believes COVID-19 was contracted.
- Inquiring about the employee’s work and nonwork activities, and possible exposure, leading up to the COVID-19 diagnosis.
- Investigating the employee’s work environment to determine whether COVID-19 exposure could have happened there.
- Some examples include if the employee worked in the same area that positively-tested employee worked, the amount of exposure to working with the public, the employee’s job duties, the amount of crowding on the job site that prevented social distancing, and the use of PPE.
The investigations that OSHA is asking employers to undertake for COVID-19 require those employers to determine the likelihood that the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace based on information reasonably available to them at the time of their investigation. If more information becomes available, the employer will be required to update the investigation.
OSHA complaints for COVID-19 are on the rise
OSHA started tracking COVID-19 related complaints for essential industries using the N-16-COVID-19 code starting on April 20th. Of the seven essential industries OSHA was tracking for COVID-19 complaints, the construction industry had the third-highest number of COVID-19 related OSHA complaints using the N-16-COVID-19 code. From 4/20/20 to 6/7/20, the construction industry has seen a 73% increase in OSHA complaints. Click here to see the OSHA complaints totals to date. This is most likely attributed to the increased number of construction workers that have been allowed to resume work on previously shut down projects combined with the expiration of stay-at-home orders.
How to Protect Your Company from Work-Related COVID-19 OSHA Complaints
With the increase in COVID-19 related complaints to OSHA, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re protecting your business by documenting your policies for social distancing, use of PPE, sanitation, and disinfection of equipment and tools, and handwashing to reduce the risk of OSHA complaints on your job sites. You will want to make sure that the policies and procedures are understood and shared with your field employees as quickly as possible. With WorkMax, you can quickly deploy new COVID-19 safety training and obtain signatures with a time and date stamp to confirm that they understand the new policies and procedures. WorkMax allows employees to watch videos and sign off with a date and time stamp on their smartphones that they watched and understood the COVID-19 policies. Another way you can protect your business from OSHA complaints is to use our mobile forms app to take photos and videos throughout the day to document how your employees are following your social distancing, PPE equipment, and handwashing procedures on the jobsite.
To see some videos about how to use WorkMax for COVID-19 Training and documentation to protect your employees and your business here’s a list:
- Toolbox Talks for COVID-19 Construction Safety
- COVID-19 Questionnaire: How to Create, Share, and Analyze
- 5 Ways Live Field Data Improves COVID-19 Safety