Contractors of all types take note. On May 19, 2020, OSHA issued “Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease.” The new guidelines apply to any employer with more than 10 employees, and are in effect as of May 26, 2020. They will apply to any contractor with an employee infected by COVID-19.
Thus, if an employee has (1) a confirmed case of COVID-19, (2) the case is work-related, and (3) the case involves “one or more of the general recording criteria,” then the employer must record the case as a work-related illness. (The general recording criteria include lost work time and medical treatment beyond first aid, along with more serious conditions.)
Construction companies must now make a “reasonable and good faith inquiry” if an employee has a confirmed case, to determine whether the infection is work-related, which may include interviewing the employee as to likely sources of infection.
Most typical construction site injuries are recognizable immediately. A COVID-19 illness is not. The new OSHA guidelines will place an added administrative burden on contractors – most of whom are already saddled with additional steps to maintain sanitary conditions on top of the normal safety requirements. It is only after this “reasonable and good faith inquiry” that an employer need not record the incident if “the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a particular case of COVID-19.”
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