What You Need to Know About OSHA, COVID-19 & Construction Work

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COVID-19 Resource Hub

Did you know that a construction workplace exposure to COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if the worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties?

OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR part 1904 mandate that covered employers, including most construction businesses, record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log. COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
  • The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work, etc.).

Unlike many other construction workplace injuries, it will be difficult to establish if contraction of COVID-19 was work-related. It could have been contracted at home, at the grocery store, or in any number of other places. It might take an employee group-contraction to meet this criteria. That said, if the above requirements can be met, then the illness must be recorded, but that also begs the question of whether a confirmed COVID-19 case is reportable to OSHA.

Generally, the way a COVID-19 case would be reportable to OSHA would be if the employee passes away or is hospitalized (in-patient) as a result of COVID-19 contracted from performing work-related duties. The normal criteria for reporting severe injuries apply even to COVID-19 cases. Employers must report any worker fatality within eight hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours.

Although construction businesses should always maintain safety and health standards at construction sites and construction offices, these standards are of heightened importance now. In some states, such as Oregon, OSHA has begun conducting surprise investigations in response to an uptick in complaints (especially construction job site complaints) it received last month. These inspections are important as they can result in citations and possible penalties.

OSHA publishes counts of violations by company, as well as incidence rates by geography and industry. OSHA also publishes the safety and health incident rate of many individual companies. This information is important as it impacts everything from a construction company with high incident rates winning fewer projects to potential employees passing on the company. In demanding jobs such as construction, employees value companies that prioritize their health and well-being, and a safety record can be a pretty good indicator of this.

To find more information about COVID-19 and OSHA standards, visit the OSHA website.

To find more information about how to implement compliant health and safety standards at your construction site, including social distancing measures, visit websites such as the CDC website and your local AGC website, and consult your local state “shelter in place” or “stay home” order as it may provide certain rules and regulations related to construction sites/work.

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