OSHA Publishes New COVID-19 Enforcement Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised two enforcement memorandums: (i) increasing in-person inspections at all workplaces; and (ii) reinstating workplace illness recordkeeping and reporting requirements for COVID-19. OSHA stated that the revisions were appropriate as states and localities reopen, reports the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). 

The first is Increasing In-Person Inspections. OSHA had reduced in-person inspections to the highest priority of violations including significant reports of COVID-19. Under the newly revised guidance, OSHA will return to the inspection practice applied prior to COVID-19 in areas where community spread of COVID-19 has decreased significantly. In areas with elevated or resurgent community spread, OSHA will continue to prioritize COVID-19 and other significant dangers. The revised enforcement memorandum is available at https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/updated-interim-enforcement-response-plan-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

Next, Workplace Illness Reporting Requirements. OSHA, in April temporarily narrowed the requirement to record and report COVID-19 cases in acknowledgement of the difficulty for employers to determine whether an employee contracted COVID-19 at work. That policy was rescinded and now employers are required to record and report COVID-19 cases among employees if:

1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19;
2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 C.F.R. 1904.5; and
3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 C.F.R. 1904.7

However, the revised guidance instructs OSHA compliance officers to assess several factors before concluding an employer violated the illness recordkeeping and reporting requirement for COVID-19 cases, such as the reasonableness of the employer’s investigation into the work-relatedness; evidence available to the employer; and evidence that COVID-19 was contracted at work. The revised enforcement memorandum is available at https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/revised-enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, May 28, 2020. Weekly Propane Newsletter subscribers receive all the latest posted and spot prices from major terminals and refineries around the U.S. delivered to inboxes every week. Receive a center spread of posted prices with hundreds of postings updated each week, along with market analysis, insightful commentary, and much more not found elsewhere.