OSHA COVID-19 Updates
April 13, 2020 (Houston, TX) — OSHA issued the following three updates:
OSHA announced on Friday that it will not require employers (outside Healthcare and Emergency Response organizations) to determine if an employee’s COVID-19 infection is work-related in most cases. OSHA will assume (outside Healthcare and Emergency Response) that a COVID-19 infection is not work-related and therefore not recordable unless:
- There is objectionable evidence the infection is work related (such with a number of cases in employees who work closely together without an alternative explanation); and
- The evidence was readily available to the employer (evidence employers get to employees or evidence the employer learned in the ordinary course).
Outside these exceptions, a COVID-19 infection would not be recordable. OSHA states it is implementing this guidance so that employers focus their response on enforcing good hygiene and otherwise minimizing COVID-19 spread.
General Duty Clause:
If employers do not evoke adequate effort to keep employees safe from COVID-19 infections, however, they could be investigated and hit with General Duty Clause citations. OSHA launched such an investigation at an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania following a complaint that the company was not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Such concerns included the employee’s inability to maintain social distancing, a lack of protective gear and not providing time to wash hands.
Fit Testing Requirements:
Due to the shortage of N95 masks due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, OSHA has announced that its field offices will exercise enforcement discretion concerning annual mask Fit Testing Requirements as long as employers make good-faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Respiratory Protection Standards.
OSHA advises that employers should assess their work practices, engineering and administrative controls, to identify changes that can be made to decrease the need for N95 and other face piece regulators. This could include increasing the use of wet methods, portable local exhaust systems and moving work outdoors.
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