COVID-19, Returning to Work, and OSHA...OH MY!

Posted by Christy Putnam on June 15, 2020 at 10:18 AM

Return-to-Work Action Plan and New OSHA Reporting Requirements COVID-19 Workplace SafetyMonths into the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are asking questions like how and when is it safe to re-open their organizations. Meanwhile, local governments are working through very confusing phases of re-opening regulations. And as if that's not enough to think about, OSHA updated the rules for employer obligations of reporting COVID-19 as a workplace illness. Lions, and tigers, and bears, OH MY! Could this be anymore overwhelming? In this post, we will attempt to help make sense of some of the latest updates, and we're also offering a free webinar on COVID-19 workplace safety as well as a policy template so that you have two valuable resources to assist your progress in these safety-related tasks.

Oregon and Washington have both developed robust websites to help individuals and organizations understand the differences between phases and also to keep everyone as up-to-date as possible as each county applies and enters each of the phases. One, of many, of the key elements in determining the correct phase for a county is the number of COVID-19 cases. The Oregon Health Authority and Washington State Department of Health both report on a daily basis the updated numbers.

When it's determined that it is time to return employees to work, it will be important to develop and enact a thoughtful action plan. The plan you put into practice will create a whole new normal for your organization. Employers will need to be flexible, creative, and patient. It is important to take state, local, OSHA, CDC, and industry-specific guidance into account when developing your plan. To put employees' minds at ease and make sure that proper protocols are being followed, it is a good idea to have a written action plan that can be shared. Click on the image below to download a template that can be customized for getting you started on this path. Remember: every organization is different, and "one size" certainly does not fit all, so your company's action plan will most assuredly differ from those of colleagues at other companies.

Return to Work Action Plan provided by Bennett/Porter & Associates

As far as distributing your completed action plan to all employees, consider using your Human Capital Management system's document distribution, announcement, and Employee Self Service (ESS) features to get the word out.

Also with these quickly changing times come additional reporting requirements and regulations related to employee wellbeing and safety. Effective May 26th, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new guidance that applies to all employers required to maintain a Form 300 log. This new guidance makes COVID-19 a reportable illness when filing the OSHA Form 300 if three criteria are met. The three criteria for reporting include:

  • At least one confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, exists.
  • The case is work-related.
  • The illness results in death, days away from work, restricted work or the transfer to another job, or medical treatment beyond first aid.

Employers must respect any affected worker’s privacy while making reasonable efforts to conduct the necessary investigation. Investigations should include the following actions:

  • Ask the employee how they believe they contracted the COVID-19 illness.
  • Discuss the employee’s work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the illness (again while respecting privacy).
  • Review the suspected work environment for exposure.

For additional guidance during these unprecedented times, please plan to attend our free June HR webinar, Workplace Health and Safety Post-COVID-19. Our HR experts, who are also available to you via our People Savvy HCM Essentials service, will take a look at how employers can create a safe and healthy workplace for employees to return to.

Please join us for our complementary webinar
Thursday, June 18th at 10:00am PDT

Workplace Health and Safety Post-COVID-19

Register Now!

When registering for this webinar, please ensure that you put
Bennett/Porter & Associates in the “referred by” registration field.

Topics: Human Resources, HR Compliance, COVID-19, workplace safety

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