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OSHA outlines COVID-19 resources

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidelines, requirements and plans to aid employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the obligation to record cases of the virus.

OSHA said in a statement that employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the case:

  • Is confirmed as a COVID-19 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 has also announced an interim enforcement response plan for the pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports.

General enforcement guidance

  • OSHA should investigate complaints, referrals, and employer-reported fatalities and hospitalizations to identify potentially hazardous occupational exposures and to ensure that employers take prompt actions to mitigate hazards and protect employees. 
  • If an employer is not immediately aware of a reportable fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye that was the result of a work-related incident, a report to OSHA must be made within specific time frames relating to the incident.
  • Prior to any inspection related to COVID-19, each area director (AD) should evaluate the risk level of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at the workplace and prioritize if an on-site inspection is necessary.
  • Further details are outlined on OHSA’s website.

The regulatory body is also reminding employers that it “is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours.

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt in a statement. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”