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As 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:
- It is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC
- The case is believed to be work-related (i.e. several cases developing among workers)
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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