What to Do If An Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, there are a number of steps you should take to ensure compliance with the various federal, state and local requirements. Detailed below some of the current recommendations for employers:

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California Adopts Strongest Standard for Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare Employees

Studies show that health care workers are at a significantly higher risk of workplace violence than the average worker in other industries.   The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), reports from 2002-2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (who require days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in the health care industry than in the private industry on average.

In October of 2016, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) unanimously accepted a new General Industry Order entitled “Workplace Prevention in Health Care”.  The Office of Administrative Law approved the standard in December of 2016, and is codified at Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.   The rule is far more extensive than the Federal OSHA’s guidelines for the prevention of workplace violence in health care settings.

Beginning April 1, 2017 all employers in California operating in the following health care areas will be required to comply with Section 3342, the “Workplace Prevention in Health Care” rule:

  • Health Care facilities
  • Home Health Care Programs
  • Drug Treatment Programs
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Outpatient Medical Services to Correctional and Detention Settings

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OSHA Final Rule: Electronic Reporting and the End of Blanket Post-Injury Drug Testing

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a final rule to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.”  The full text of the rule can be found here.  The rule requires electronic submission of work related injury data for some employers. In addition, the rule serves to prevent employers from illegally discriminating and/or retaliating against employees for reporting work related injuries and illnesses.  This means employers may no longer be able to use post-injury drug testing for all work related injuries. The new rule will be enforced beginning November 1, 2016.

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How Long Should We Keep Employee Records?

1370555_37974185One of the most frequently asked questions is how long a company must retain employee records under various federal labor and employment laws.  Here are the answers:

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OSHA Issues New Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Serious Injuries; Data to be Made Public

On Sept. 11, 2014, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule which greatly expands the scope of injuries that must be reported to OSHA on an expedited basis.  Currently, employers only have an affirmative obligation to report an injury/illness to OSHA under the following circumstances:

  1. A work-related fatality (within 8 hours)
  2. The hospitalization of three or more employees (within 8 hours)
  3. The occurrence of a point-of-operation injury on a mechanical power press (within 30 days).

Under the revised standard, an employer has the following mandatory reporting obligations effective Jan. 1, 2015:

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Medical Emergency at the Worksite? Take Steps to Prepare

There are workplace safety rules for almost every conceivable category of jobs or tasks, courtesy of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  The underlying law* also requires employers to provide a workplace “free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  That requirement falls under the “general duty” clause of law.  You can be cited for violating that requirement if a “recognized hazard” is present, and you don’t do anything to eliminate or at least mitigate it.

In addition, according to OSHA, employers must provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies “commensurate with the hazards of the workplace.”  Of course, as OSHA states, the needs of your company’s first aid program “are dependent on the circumstances of each workplace and employer.”  If OSHA finds your first aid program doesn’t adequately address the hazards of your workplace, the agency might step in to enforce its own standards.

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