COVID-19 AND THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Here's How You Can Protect Your Business
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Are You Maintaining COVID-19 Related Documentation?

Construction business owners have a lot of areas of their business they need to manage. Effective recordkeeping is one of the most overlooked areas of managing a business. An effective recordkeeping system helps employers track expenses, prepare annual financial statements, and protect their small business from lawsuits or an audit by a government agency. 

Employers are legally obligated to maintain a plethora of documents, including employment records, tax records, payroll records, and workers’ compensation records, among other important documents. Along with these required documents, employers will want to keep other essential records related to receipts, accounts payable and receivable, safety manuals, permits, and contracts. 

With the recent spread of COVID-19 across the country, employers will now be tasked with maintaining COVID-19 related documents too. In this article, a Raleigh construction lawyer will discuss what exactly an employer is required to keep records of and some additional items they should consider documenting. For employment law or tax advice, consult a Raleigh contractor attorney at Cotney Construction Law. 

Related: Creating a Strategy for Reopening Your Construction Business

COVID-19 Related Requirements for OSHA

Under updated federal guidance, employers are not exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements for confirmed cases of COVID-19. The key is that the infection must be considered work-related in nature. For more information on these guidelines produced by the federal safety agency, review OSHA’s revised enforcement guidelines. Although employers are not expected to undertake extensive medical inquiries, when they learn of a COVID-19 related illness, they may ask the employee if they believe they are infected. The employer can discuss with the employee how they believe they contracted the illness. If the infection is believed to be work-related, the employer should record the respiratory illness in their OSHA Form 300 log. 

If the infection is not work-related, the employer does not need to record the illness on their OSHA form; however, there are some other recordkeeping tactics that can help protect workers and reduce liability for the employer. 

Workplace Changes

Although it’s not a federal or state requirement, employers should keep a running log of the steps they have taken to prepare the workplace for the employees’ return, including making physical modifications made to maintain social distancing requirements, scheduling adjustments for employees, and granting extended telework or an extended leave of absence.  

Related: COVID-19: Managing Employees With Pre-Existing Conditions

Policy Changes

Any policies that were adjusted to accommodate safety and health advice from public health organizations, such as the CDC, should be documented, including work-related travel restrictions, teleworking policies, attendance policies, revising medical leave policies to include Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) benefits, and updated job descriptions and essential duties. 

Daily Temperature Screening

Under recently released federal guidelines, employers are encouraged to conduct daily temperature screening tests to mitigate the spread of the virus. Employers should keep a daily log of each day this was performed, if any employees had a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, and the date and time they were sent home. The daily screening log should include any updates regarding the employee’s condition.  

Contact Logs

All employees should be required to keep a contact log detailing whom the employee worked with each day and any clients, vendors, or bystanders they may have come in contact with. If an employee is infected with COVID-19, this information should be recorded in a private log as well. It’s important that any medical-related information remains private as it’s confidential. 

Cleaning Initiatives

Employers should keep a running list of the frequency of cleaning activities and other tasks related to stopping the spread of COVID-19. For example, the cleaning and sanitizing procedures conducted each day should be recorded as well as the frequency of external cleaning agencies visiting the jobsite. 

Related: Preventing Workplace Exposure in Construction

Paid Leave

Employers will need to track employees that exercise their right to take paid medical or family leave during the pandemic. Under FFCRA, qualified employees have the right to 14 days of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons, including infection, caring for a loved one, or homeschooling a child.  

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan

Employers that received a federal loan will need a recordkeeping system in place documenting how exactly they spent the money they received. Specifically, employers should place these funds in a separate account, spend at least 75 percent of the funds on payroll, and closely track every expense to ensure compliance.  

As states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and employees return to work, employers must prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. From addressing safety concerns to updating policies and maintaining a reliable recordkeeping system, employers will need to identify and address crucial employment issues to protect their employees and their business. For employment law and safety related legal advice, consult a Raleigh construction law firm with any of your legal concerns. 

If you would like to speak with a Raleigh construction litigation 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.