A: The revised guidelines provide the Compliance Safety and Health Officers, (CSHOs) with revised guidance to assess an employer’s work-relatedness. Below is a brief summary of the revised enforcement guidelines.
The reasonableness of the employer’s investigation into work-relatedness
Employers, especially small employers, should not be expected to undertake extensive medical inquiries, given employee privacy concerns and most employers’ lack of expertise in this area. It is sufficient in most circumstances for the employer to:
- Ask the employee how he believes he/she contracted the illness;
- Privately discuss with the employee his/her work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the illness;
- Review the employees work environment for potential exposures.
The evidence available to the employer
The evidence that a COVID-19 illness was work-related should be considered based on the information reasonably available to the employer at the time it made its work-relatedness determination.
The evidence that a COVID-19 illness was contracted at work
- Cases are likely work-related when several cases develop among workers who work closely together, and there is no alternative explanation.
- An employee’s illness is likely work-related if it is contracted shortly after lengthy, close exposure to a customer or co-worker who has a confirmed case and there is no other explanation.
- An employee’s illness is likely not work-related if he/she is the only worker to contract COVID-19 in her vicinity and her job duties do not include having frequent contact with the general public, regardless of the rate of community spread.
- An employee’s illness is likely not work-related if he/she closely and frequently associates with someone who has COVID-19 outside the workplace.
If, after the reasonable and good faith inquiries described above, the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with the employee contracting COVID-19, then the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness.
We recommend employers read the entire OSHA memo for details, please see link below:
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact your Liberty Advisor