COVID-19 and the Construction Industry

Here's How You Can Protect Your Business

Monthly Archives: June, 2020

  1. Contractors in Hard-Hit Michigan Must Be Mindful of OSHA’s COVID-19 Recordkeeping Requirements

    The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has taken an incredible toll on Michigan. As of the time of this writing, Michigan ranks first in the upper Midwest in coronavirus deaths. Michigan ranks eighth in COVID-19 cases and fifth in deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States. It’s still unclear why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly through Michigan. What is clear is that employers, especially contractors, must be cautious as the state enters into Phase 3. of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reopening plan. 

    Below, a Michigan OSHA lawyer discusses how contractors can comply with the COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although we hope you’ll never need to, the unfortunate truth is that you need to be prepared to potentially record a case of COVID-19 on your project site. If your site is impacted by COVID-19, we want you to be ready. 

    Related: OSHA’s New COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce

    Updated Guidance on Recording Cases of COVID-19

    We previously discussed OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements when we went over their temporary guidance. The updated interim guidance is very similar to what was previously released and will remain in effect until the end of the pandemic. According to OSHA, you are required to record cases of COVID-19 when:

    • It is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. The employee tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. 
    • It is work-related. The employee likely contracted the disease while at work
    • It involved recordkeeping criteria. The case results in “death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness,” or if it involves a significant injury or illness.

    The second point is of considerable concern. How can you accurately determine if an employee contracted the virus while on your jobsite? They could have just as easily gotten the virus from a grocery store. Fortunately, OSHA does not require employers to record cases of COVID-19 as long as the employer has made a “good faith effort” and cannot determine if the employee got sick while at the workplace. 

    Related: Screening Employees for COVID-19

    You are Responsible for Making a Good Faith Effort 

    As an employer, you are expected to investigate if a COVID-19 case is work-related. You can do this by asking a sick employee how they believe they contracted the virus and what work and out-of-work activities could have resulted in exposure. You should also investigate their work environment to consider how they may have been exposed. 

    Of note, OSHA doesn’t expect you to don a detective cap. All evidence used in your decision making should be “reasonably available.” OSHA does want you to record cases of COVID-19, but more importantly, OSHA wants you to provide a safe work environment. For assistance keeping your workers safe during this difficult time, consult a Michigan OSHA lawyer with Cotney Construction Law. 

    If you would like to speak with a Michigan OSHA attorney, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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  2. Screening Employees for COVID-19

    As Florida enters Full Phase One of the plan to reopen businesses, all forms of construction work can resume in the Sunshine State. As part of this reopening plan, construction businesses need to implement a mitigation strategy to stop the spread of the virus. As part of this plan, employees will need to be screened for COVID-19

    In this brief article, the Florida OSHA defense attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will discuss this screening process. For coronavirus-related legal advice, visit our COVID-19 resources section

    The Most Common COVID-19 Symptom

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 83 to 99 percent of individuals with COVID-19 will experience symptoms of a fever. As fever is the most common symptom experienced by infected individuals, construction employers should consider implementing employee screening procedures to reduce the chances of the respiratory disease spreading throughout the jobsite. According to the CDC, a fever for COVID-19 purposes, is any temperature at 100.4°F or above. 

    Related: Tampa’s Largest Construction Sites To Be Inspected By Nurses

    Taking the Employee’s Temperature

    To begin, the only individuals taking the temperatures of patients should be trained and certified in this process. For this reason, it’s best to have a nurse or medical professional located in the workplace; however, you can have a management-level employee conducting this process if they have been properly trained in the process. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that the person taking each employee’s temperature wears:   

    • Gloves
    • Gowns
    • Eye/face protection (e.g., goggles, face shield)
    • NIOSH-certified, disposable N95 filter facepiece respirators or better

    The best equipment to use to take an employee’s temperature is a thermal scanner or camera, as it requires no direct contact with the individual. If none are available, the person taking temperatures can use a forehead or temporal artery thermometer or an oral thermometer. If an employee has a temperature at 100.4°F or greater, the person taking their temperature should discreetly notify them of this. The employee will need to self-isolate, so it’s critical that they are not allowed entrance onto the jobsite. Separate the individual from their co-workers and instruct them to go directly home and begin to quarantine. 

    Waiting in Line 

    When you establish a line to take each employee’s temperature, it’s best to do this outdoors in a covered area. You will need to reduce crowding, so place markings on the ground. It’s best to have multiple lines and to place markings of six feet of space between each waiting spot in line. Ensure that employees are respecting the social distancing requirements and waiting in their designated spot in line. Moreover, site managers should consider staggering shift times to ensure that there are not too many employees showing up at the same time. Construction businesses should also consider extending their hours of operation to reduce the traffic flow on their jobsite. 

    For legal advice related to workplace safety or employment law, consult Florida OSHA defense lawyers at Cotney Construction Law. 

    If you would like to speak with our Florida OSHA defense attorneys, please contact us today.

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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