At the time this article is being written, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Tennessee has climbed to over 700 — not even a week after Nashville Mayor John Cooper declared a state of emergency for Metro Nashville and Davidson County. For many workers in the construction industry, COVID-19 has already struck a heavy blow in terms of production slowdowns, supply chain disruptions, and cost.
It is now more important than ever to review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and regulations designed to assist employers with providing a safe workplace free from recognized hazards. In this brief article, a construction lawyer in Brenton, TN, discusses which OSHA standards are applicable to COVID-19 and what you can do to protect yourself and your employees.
Recording Workplace Exposure to COVID-19
29 CFR Part 1904 covers OSHA recordkeeping requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses and the forms employers must use to record them. COVID-19 can be considered a recordable illness only if the worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. The following conditions must be met before the employer is held responsible for recording their case of COVID-19:
- The case must be a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria, such as days off work or medical treatment
- The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Subpart I of OSHA standard 1910 covers personal protective equipment for workers, including protective clothing, respiratory devices, and personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities. This is relevant to the discussion of COVID-19 because these standards are designed to protect workers from exposure to process hazards, chemical hazards, environmental hazards and other irritants capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body.
COVID-19 is thought to be transferred through respiratory droplets produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Protective equipment like that covered in OSHA standard 1910 can help prevent workers from inhaling these droplets either through the nose or mouth. Additionally, OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard which typically applies to exposure to human blood and other potentially infectious materials can be extended to the respiratory secretions capable of transmitting COVID-19.
To speak with a construction attorney in Brentwood, TN, familiar with OSHA standards and ready to advocate for you in these difficult times, contact Cotney Construction Law today. We can assist you in recognizing what you can do to protect yourself and your employees.
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.