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: What are the standard steps an employer should take to determine if a COVID-19 case is work related and thus reportable?
A: This question and other COVID-19 related events are issues that many employers are wrestling with. In response, OSHA has issued a memorandum addressing the recordkeeping questions related to COVID-19 exposure.
In addition, it has developed a web page dedicated to the topic of COVID- 19 news and alerts.
The memo provides updated interim guidance to OSHA compliance safety and health officers for enforcing the requirements of OSHA regulations with respect to the recording of occupational illnesses, specifically cases of COVID-19.
This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis.
Please frequently check OSHA's webpage for updates. Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, so employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The case is work-related as defined by OSHA’s determination of work-relatedness regulation
- The case involves one or more of OSHA’s general recording criteria
Q: In November 2019, an employee working in a job with repetitive motion felt muscular discomfort in his wrist. He reported it to a supervisor but did not miss any time nor receive medical treatment.
After the New Year, the wrist got progressively worse and the employee had surgery. What date should be used to indicate the start of illness, November, or when he stopped working to have the operation?
A: The question indicates that in November 2019, the employee had a work-related injury or illness that did not meet the basic OSHA recordkeeping requirement and was not recorded.
As set out in OSHA’s determination of new cases regulation, you must consider an injury or illness to be a new case if the employee has not previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affects the same part of the body, or the employee previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affected the same part of the body but had recovered completely—all signs and symptoms had disappeared—and an event or exposure in the work environment caused the signs or symptoms to reappear.
The case must be considered a new case and recorded as such.
Q: If an employee breaks a leg outside of work hours and away from the workplace, but slips on the job in the parking lot because he is still getting used to the crutches, is that reportable?
A: If the slip and fall in the parking lot resulted in an injury or illness that meets the OSHA recordkeeping criteria, then, yes, it would be reportable.