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.