As COVID-19’s presence continues to affect how people live and work, work sites must prepare to adapt as well. Because of this, OSHA has issued policy updates and revisions concerning how businesses should handle COVID-19. This includes audits, inspections and record-keeping.
While some of these updates are contingent on state and local legislation, others apply on a federal level and must be heeded by all businesses.
Relevant Enforceable Standards
Some existing OSHA standards concerning pathogens have a clear connection to COVID-19. These include:
- 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, concerning Personal Protection Equipment (PPE);
- Subpart J, on general environmental controls;
- Subpart Z, on toxic and hazardous substances;
- 29 CFR 1904, on reporting cases of workplace illnesses.
These standards still need to be observed and upheld by employers, though some specific details have been revised as well.
OSHA Recordkeeping Revisions
Like any illness that an employee may contract, COVID-19 is considered a recordable illness—that is, if the disease was contracted in a work environment, the employer will need to record it, and any time at work missed, in their 300 log. Because of the difficulty in ascertaining evidence on where the employee was exposed, though, OSHA does not mandate that extensive medical investigations are required.
Nonetheless, employers should still conduct inquiries by consulting with employees that have fallen ill and investigate their local work environments.
Since evidence of work-related COVID-19 incidents is not always straightforward to find, preemptive measures to reduce the risk of contracting COVID at work are valuable. Businesses should expect increased in-person inspections from OSHA, making it critical that they observe protocols to create a safe workspace and protect employees. Some actions to take include:
- Keep employees informed on news from the CDC, WHO and other authorities;
- Develop a Pandemic Preparedness Plan and provide training to employees;
- Regularly disinfect the workplace and encourage workers to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid openly coughing or sneezing and respect distance from other workers and customers when possible;
- Urge employees to stay at home when sick. Employees may see it as risky to lose wages and/or sick days, so permit them to work remotely whenever possible or help cover with paid time off to protect their livelihood.
If you’re looking to keep up with new OSHA updates during the pandemic and to keep your employees safe, turn to Construction Safety Experts for safety consulting and training on health regulations, along with services like auditing, operator training and more.
Contact our experts by calling (919) 463-0669 or via our website here, today!