Some groups have chided the current administration for not citing employers for safety and health violations due to the coronavirus, but the U. S. Department of Labor issued a press release which states that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued over 3 million dollars in citations.
What might impact your workplace are reporting or recording illnesses or fatalities on the OSHA 300 form. This is not easy. Most employers would be wise to determine if coronavirus illnesses or fatalities in their workplace came from the workplace. While employees can catch the virus anywhere, OSHA does have steps for making this analysis, outlined below:
Employers should consider all reasonably available evidence, in the manner described above, to determine whether an employer has complied with its recording obligation. This cannot be reduced to a ready formula, but certain types of evidence may weigh in favor of or against work-relatedness. For instance:
- COVID-19 illnesses are likely work-related when several cases develop among workers who work closely together, and there is no alternative explanation.
- An employee’s COVID-19 illness is likely work-related if it is contracted shortly after lengthy, close exposure to a particular customer or coworker who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, and there is no alternative explanation.
- An employee’s COVID-19 illness is likely work-related if his job duties include having frequent, close exposure to the general public in a locality with ongoing community transmission, and there is no alternative explanation.
- An employee’s COVID-19 illness is likely not work-related if she is the only worker to contract COVID-19 in their vicinity, and their job duties do not include having frequent contact with the general public, regardless of the rate of community spread.
- An employee’s COVID-19 illness is likely not work-related if he, outside the workplace, closely and frequently associates with someone (e.g., a family member, significant other, or close friend) who (1) has COVID-19; (2) is not a coworker, and (3) exposes the employee during the period in which the individual is likely infectious.
- Employers should give due weight to any evidence of causation pertaining to the employee’s illness, at issue provided by medical providers, public health authorities, or the employee themself.
If you have questions about this, please contact us. We are happy to help.