COVID-19 and Workplace Exposure

May 18, 2020
 COVID-19 and Workplace Exposure

As states and businesses across the United States begin reopening, employers need to know whether they'll be held accountable if an employee contracts COVID-19 at work. 

To restrict COVID-19 exposure and transmission, employers can screen COVID-19 employees by temperature-taking and testing, asking whether workers have any COVID-19 symptoms, allowing workers to report COVID-19 symptoms to a supervisor and sending sick employees home. Employers are also expected to keep employee health records private and must ensure that all monitoring is accurate and effective.

OSHA Regulations and Administrative Guidance

OSHA created four categories of regulation and offered guidelines on what PPE should be offered for.

Very High Risk

  • Healthcare staff who are specifically exposed to COVID-19, either by aerosol-producing procedures, gathering specimens, or conducting autopsies on patients reported to or believed to have.

  • OSHA recommends wearing gloves, gowns, face shields or goggles, as well as a face mask or breather. Anyone that works closely with patients proven to be positive for COVID-19 or suspected of doing so should wear respirators.

High risk  

  • Healthcare staff who come into touch, transport or examine patients confirmed or suspected of COVID-19.
  • For high-risk workers OSHA has the same PPE recommendations as Very High-Risk guidelines.

Medium risk 

  • Workers who require frequent and/or close contact (within six feet) from the general public but who are not known or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • OSHA recommends a combination or selection of "gloves, a gown, a face mask, and/or a face shield or goggles." OSHA also contemplates using sneeze guards and physical barriers such as glass / plastic partitions.

Lower Risk 

  • Healthcare workers who do not need interaction with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, or frequent or near communication with the public.
  • No recommendations for additional PPE over and above what is normally used in the workplace or required by any other order, regulation, or the law.

CDC Guidelines for Businesses and Employers

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also given certain guidelines for businesses and employers responding to COVID-19. The strategies and recommendations for employers, particularly those aiming to resume regular or phased business operations:

  • Conduct daily health checks
  • Conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace
  • Encourage employees to wear face coverings at work, if necessary
  • Implement social distancing policies and practices in the workplace
  • Improving the ventilation system of buildings
  • A table outlining the engineering controls, administrative checks and personal protective equipment (PPE) that employees can use to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to the workplace.

Because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, and the extent of the current public health crisis, COVID-19 risk persists in almost every sector. In the case of Connecticut and other states with similar occupational disease coverage, COVID-19 is likely to be a compensated workplace illness.

Workers who appear to have contracted COVID-19 at work, though, are likely to face challenging difficulties in meeting their burden in establishing that they were exposed at work. Through a preponderance of the facts a worker's compensation claimant must prove that their injury or illness is causally linked to their employment.

If you’re contracted coronavirus due to workplace exposure, then contact the best Personal Injury Lawyer in New Haven, CT to file a worker’s compensation case.

All people are equal before the law. A good attorney.