OSHA has adopted revised polices for enforcing coronavirus requirements as states continue to re-open nationwide.
The agency announced May 19 it has revised two of its COVID-19-related enforcement policies to ensure employers are taking appropriate action to protect employees.
Understanding about the transmission and prevention of infection has improved throughout the course of the pandemic, and public and private entities “have taken rapid and evolving measures to slow the virus’s spread, protect employees and adapt to new ways of doing business,” according to an OSHA news release.
Increasing in-person inspections
Under the updated enforcement policies, OSHA is increasing its in-person inspections at all types of workplaces.
The new guidance reflects the evolving circumstances in which many non-critical businesses have begun to re-open in areas of lower community spread.
Risk of transmission is lower for specific workplaces, and PPE needed for inspections is more widely available.
Agency staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections while using all available enforcement tools.
Recording coronavirus cases
The agency is also revising its previous enforcement policies for recording cases of coronavirus. The coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases, if the case:
- is confirmed as a coronavirus illness
- work-related as defined under 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.
This will apply for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers.
However, in many instances it’s still difficult to determine if a coronavirus illness is work-related, especially if there was potential exposure in and out of the workplace.
The new guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to determine if a case is work-related.
Recording a COVID-19 illness does not mean a standard was violated, and following existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and those in low-hazard industries have no recording obligations other than those involving a fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.