Welcome to our monthly column featuring CONN-OSHA experts answering some of the most commonly asked questions from CBIA member companies.

Most of the responses from Catherine Zinsser, a CONN-OSHA occupational safety training specialist, will be on recordkeeping since that's the focus of most questions she fields.

But if you'd like to ask her a question on another topic, please email CBIA's Phillip Montgomery.

He will treat all questions confidentially and never share any identifying company information with CONN-OSHA or anyone else.

Q: If I require my employees to telecommute, thus making their homes their workstation, am I required to inspect the work area to make sure it is safe? How do I know if an injury occurring at home is recordable?

A: For recordkeeping purposes, 1904.5(b)(7) discusses injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office.

An injury or illness will be considered work-related if it occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting.

For example, if an employee drops a box of work documents and injures their foot, the case is considered work-related.

If an employee working at home receives an electric shock because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.

 When considering the safety of the home environment the employer should review OSHA's inspection policies and procedures on home-based worksites.

Q: How will it be determined that an employee contracted COVID-19 on the job and it is therefore reportable?

A: Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness.

Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and the extent of transmission is a rapidly evolving issue.

Here is more information on enforcement guidance for recording cases of coronavirus disease, and here is some on health and safety topics.