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OSHA Revises COVID-19 Enforcement Policies

THE SHOPThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration has updated its enforcement response plan for handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports, the agency announced.

The new response plan, effective May 26, will see an increase in on-site inspections at all workplaces, reflecting the reopening of non-essential businesses in areas of lower community spread.

OSHA is also revising its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus 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 as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; 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.

OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. Given the nature of the disease and community spread, however, 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. OSHA’s guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.

Recording a coronavirus illness does not mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. Following existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report work-related coronavirus illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

To view the new guidelines, click here.

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