Yes, we have heard by now that COVID-19 has forever changed our society, public interaction and workplaces. The alarming resurgence in spread and the record number of cases lets us know that we are nowhere near the end of this. The threats to individual and community health are the highest they have been in my lifetime. The shifts for many employers have been drastic: wavering customer demand, furloughing employees, virtual workdays…all the while trying to keep the doors open and navigate through return-to-work strategies. There is a multitude of relative information out there, from updated virus facts to the changing reopening guidelines at the federal, state and local levels. Trying to process it all while constructing and implementing your RTW processes can be overwhelming. Over the last few days, I have had multiple conversations with companies nearing that overwhelmed feeling, but there has been a common thread of concentration. While gathering information and formulating plans, none of us want to inadvertently miss MANDATORY requirements. For employers, our standard in that regard is OSHA. If you have not recently checked OSHA updates specific to COVID-19, I want to provide some of that for you along with helpful quick links for your reference.
The first thing to note with OSHA is that COVID-19 qualifies as a recordable. This means that, as employers, we have the responsibility of putting measures in place to prevent and mitigate spread and infection. Our frontline, basic internal questions should not revolve around, “Should we screen?” but instead, “What are efficient screening processes we can implement?”…in OSHA’s Guidance On Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, there is significant weight placed on symptoms. OSHA refers to it repeatedly as “signs and symptoms.” From the self-reporting of symptoms to the isolation of those showing signs and symptoms, OSHA has definite focus on an employer’s preventative and safety measures around COVID-19.
“Eliminating hazards from COVID-19 remains a top priority for OSHA” is one of the anchor statements in OSHA’s Updated Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19. This a great resource document for every employer. It contains response plan guidance and samples of an employer letter for COVID-19 activities, a hazard alert letter, and an alleged violation description for citation. Of course, we know that the OSH Act’s “General Duty Clause” remains at the center of employer to employee responsibilities. “Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards.”
Here is one more link for you. It is the quick-reference FAQ’s page in OSHA’s COVID-19 section of its website. It regularly updates and you can find information on employer questions from “Are employers required to provide cloth face coverings to workers?” to “What does OSHA mean by work-related COVID-19?”
I know the new normal can be overwhelming. By staying informed and working together, we can create and cultivate a safer world for all of us to live, work and play in. We all share the responsibility of keeping ourselves safe. For those of us also accountable for the safety of others, Modjoul has the solution to fit your company’s needs. If you would like to know more, please send us a message or give us a call.