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OSHA has recently published a new Guidance on Returning to Work document for “non-essential” businesses planning to reopen.

While OSHA has published this as a guide – and stresses that no new standards or regulations are being created – it does revisit and mention several existing mandatory health and safety standards, and cites applicable labor, disability, and employment laws including the following:

  • General Duty Clause
    Requires employers to provide their employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious physical harm
  • Employee Exposure and Medical Records
    Requires employers to adequately secure medical records for the duration of the employee’s tenure plus 30 years and follow confidentiality requirements. This regulation may impact employers that implement health screenings or temperature checks that are documented.
  • What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
    Includes a section of technical questions and answers, how to properly conduct screenings, what applicable regulations exist, and best practices for “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace.”


OSHA’s return to work publication also revisits the phases of reopening and stresses the importance of adhering to the enforcement and requirements of the Federal Government, state and local governments (including state-OSHA plans), as well as following public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The list of guiding principles from OSHA’s latest publication are summarized below:
The principles were designed to assist employers with developing best practices, while stressing the importance of communication and effective employee training. Please note, these principles are not considered complete. To further this point, OSHA has provided additional recommendations and guidance on COVID-19 preparation.

  • Hazard Assessment
    Review job duties and determine potential workplace exposures to COVID from customers, visitors, or co-workers
  • Hygiene
    Have soap, water, paper towels, and/or hand sanitizer dispensers available for occupants to use and encourage frequent hand washing through signage and ease of access. Identify high-traffic areas and schedule frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
  • Social Distancing
    Limit the total number of occupants to ensure safe distances can be kept. Mark floors in six-foot sections, provide lanes or traffic-flow indicators (i.e. arrows) where width or space is an issue, and have signage up reminding occupants to keep safe distances
  • Identification and Isolation
    Ask employees to self-monitor for symptoms or potential exposures before coming to work. Establish a protocol in the event an employee becomes ill while at work and needs to be isolated
  • Return to Work after Illness or Exposure
    Refer to the CDC Guidelines for returning to work after an illness or exposure.
  • Controls
    Develop appropriate controls to protect workers and minimize potential exposures. This can include erecting physical barriers, establishing new Standard Operating Procedures, re-evaluating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, and limiting capacity in areas through staggered shifts, or conducting meetings in virtual environments
  • Workplace Flexibilities
    If possible, provide work-from-home options to employees, and revisit sick leave, or vacation policies
  • Training
    Ensure that any training conducted is done so in the employee’s native language, and if formal, at their reading level. Training should also include best practices on workplace and self-hygiene, as well as proper use, disinfecting, and storage of PPE, along with its limitations
  • Anti-Retaliation
    Reassure employees that they will not be retaliated against for raising concerns about their safety or health. Review their rights with them and provide a list of who employees should contact if they have questions or concerns


Please refer to the Guidance on Returning to Work document to review Frequently Asked Questions with respect to COVID-19, and other services and programs made available by OSHA to assist employers in complying with their responsibilities under the law.

For your convenience, Gulfshore Insurance has compiled all COVID-19 resources to one area on our website. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

Commercial Lines OSHA Changes Recordkeeping on COVID 19On Tuesday May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued a new guidance (again) on employers’ obligation to record COVID-19 cases in the workplace.  Specifically, effective on May 26, 2020, OSHA is rescinding its April 20, 2020 guidance to employers on their obligations recording coronavirus in the workplace.

OSHA was previously not requiring employers to record positive cases outside the healthcare/emergency responder fields without objective evidence that a positive COVID-19 case is work related and there was evidence of work-relatedness reasonably available to the employer.

Now, under the guidance effective on May 26, 2020, OSHA has determined that coronavirus is a recordable illness (as a respiratory illness on an OSHA Form 300) and employers must record it if:

  1. The employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19 (as set forth under CDC guidelines);
  2. The employee was exposed to COVID-19 in the work environment; and
  3. The case is recordable under general OSHA standards (results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid or loss of consciousness).

Given the return to work in many states, OSHA decided to exercise its enforcement discretion and require recordkeeping of work related COVID-19 cases. OSHA reminds employers that merely recording an instance of COVID-19 does not mean that the employer violated any OSHA standard. OSHA will consider the following information in determining whether the employer properly made work-related determinations:

  1. The reasonableness of the investigation into work-relatedness.  OSHA cautions employers that they are not obligated to take extensive medical inquiries but should ask the employee who tested positive how the employee believes he contracted the virus, discuss with the employee activities outside of work that may lead to exposure and review the work environment for potential exposure (including knowledge of other employees at the worksite who have tested positive).
  2. The scope of the information that was available to the employer at the time it made the decision about work relatedness and whether the employer later learned additional information.
  3. Factors that will weigh in favor of work related and therefore recordable:
    1. Several cases develop among workers who work closely and there is not an alternative explanation;
    2. Shortly after “lengthy, close” exposure to customer/co-worker and there is not an alternative explanation;
    3. Job duties include close frequent contact with the public community with significant cases and there is not an alternative explanation.
  1. Factors that weigh against a finding of work related:
    1. Only one worker contracts COVID-19, and his/her job duties do not involve contact with the public (regardless of positive cases in the community);
    2. The worker has close contact family member/friend who is not a coworker who has COVID-19 during the period in which the worker was likely infected.


OSHA also will give weight to any other evidence of causation based on the individual employee, medical advice, public health authorities and/or the employee’s anecdotal information.

If after the reasonable and good faith inquiry, the employer cannot determine that exposure within the work environment played a causal role in the employee’s infection, then the employer does not need to record the COVID-19 illness. To demonstrate good faith, employers should ensure they have documented their considerations and the information relied upon in making their determinations of work-relatedness.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at

COVID-19: OSHA and Workers' CompensationAs a business owner and employer, COVID-19 has likely caused major changes in the way you are operating your business. As we now look to reopening the economy and other segments of business, you should be prepared for when an employee falls ill or tests positive for COVID-19.

OSHA has provided Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. In addition, you should consider how Workers’ Compensation may apply and if there is any necessary OSHA reporting if you have an employee test positive.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits:

Historically, it has been difficult for an employee who is not working “on the front lines” (i.e. healthcare industry, emergency response, fire, law enforcement) to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits due to a communicable disease or an “ordinary disease of life” as it is often referred. An ill employee not working in the job descriptions listed above has a heightened burden of proof to show that the illness arose out of or was caused by conditions peculiar to the work, and that he/she had a greater risk of contracting the disease in a different manner than the general public. That being said, as more employees fall ill, there is sure to be many workers who will try to prove that case.

OSHA 300 Reporting:

OSHA has released a memorandum specifically addressing COVID-19 reporting. For occupations other than healthcare, emergency response (fire and law enforcement) and correctional institutions, COVID-19 must be reported on the OSHA 300 if the following is true:

  1. It is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC
  2. The case is believed to be work-related (i.e. several cases developing among workers)
  3. The evidence being work-related was reasonably available to the employer (i.e. information given to the employer by employees, or information an employer learns regarding employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees).

Needless to say, if you have knowledge that an employee has been exposed to COVID-19, keep them away from the rest of your workforce, at home, and look to pay them their normal wages during that time.

For more information regarding COVID-19 OSHA requirements and employers’ responsibilities, visit the OSHA COVID-19 Information Page.

Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released guidance to help employers prepare their workplaces for an outbreak of COVID-19 — along with a reminder that any incidents of employees contracting the novel coronavirus at work are recordable illnesses, subject to the same rules and failure-to-record fines as other workplace injuries and illnesses.

While OSHA specifically exempts employers from recording incidents of employees contracting common colds and the flu in the workplace, COVID-19 is not exempt, the agency noted on a newly added website providing OSHA guidance for preventing occupational exposure to the rapidly spreading virus.

The guidance, while not a standard or regulation, outlines safety standards that employers whose workers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should implement to remain in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause.

The report also advises employers to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, implement basic infection prevention measures and develop policies for the identification and isolation of ill individuals.

OSHA recently unveiled the top 10 violations of 2019. It was no surprise that familiar violations from the past few years crowded the list. Fall protection led the list with more than 6,000 violations, followed by more than 3,500 violations of the hazard communication standard.

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements – 6,010 violations. This is the ninth year in a row this Construction standard has had the most OSHA violations. Among those most cited: roofing contractors, masonry contractors, and commercial and home builders.
  2. Hazard communication – 3,671 violations. Problems that come up the most: no hazcom program, no worker training on hazcom, and lack of safety data sheets (SDSs). Employers most cited: masonry contractors, painting and wall covering contractors, machine shops, and general contractors.
  3. Scaffolding – 2,813 violations. Where companies are going wrong: Using cross-braces as scaffold access, not fully planking, scaffolds not on firm foundations, and no guardrails. Employers most cited: masonry contractors, roofing contractors and commercial builders.
  4. Lockout/tagout – 2,606 violations. Companies cited don’t have LO/TO rules for specific machines, employees aren’t trained, there’s no periodic evaluation of the program, and LO/TO devices aren’t affixed. Among industries most cited: product manufacturing and sawmills.
  5. Respiratory protection – 2,450 violations. Companies aren’t providing employees with a medical evaluation before they use respirators, they don’t have a respiratory protection program, and employees don’t receive a fit test. Most cited: Auto maintenance, masonry contractors, cut stone contractors and painting and wall covering contractors.
  6. Ladders – 2,345 violations. Problems inspectors find most: ladders not extending at least three feet above a landing, using the wrong type of ladder, employees using the top step, and ladder structural defects. Most cited: Roofing, framing, siding and painting contractors.
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,093 violations. Problems inspectors find most: trucks not operating in a safe manner, operators not re-evaluated every three years, no certificate of training, and trucks in unsafe condition. Most cited: warehouses, framing contractors and machine shops.
  8. Fall protection – Training requirements – 1,773 violations. Inspectors find employees weren’t provided training, there’s no written certification, training is inadequate, and employees don’t retain training. Most cited: roofing, framing, siding, commercial and residential contractors.
  9. Machine guarding – 1,743 violations. Employers aren’t guarding points of operation; equipment isn’t anchored properly and fan blades aren’t guarded. Most cited: machine shops and metal shops.
  10. Personal protective equipment – eye and face protection – 1,411 violations. Workers aren’t protected from flying parts, liquid chemicals and radiant energy (welding), and there’s no side protection for eyes. Most cited: roofing, framing, masonry and siding contractors.