Employee with a Positive (+) COVID-19 Case? 

Employers are mandated, per OSHA, to prepare a work-relatedness plan to accommodate their employees if they are set to open anytime soon.

How does your business stack up to these criteria, and what is at stake? Let’s begin.

Contaminated or Clean?

Working in a COVID-19 World

In public and in any office, masks and social distancing guidelines are now the norm for the state of Massachusetts. We just had Phase 2 open up as of June 8th, and we’re already seeing rising cases for COVID-19. The temperature too is rising and so is tension for employers who seek to make their place of work safe for all- those who work there and seek to do business with them. 

The first thing to know is preparedness for your employees. Continue to encourage them to socially distance themselves, wash their hands and wear a mask whenever in public. While small gatherings and outdoor restaurants have opened, continue to encourage them to use safe practices. 

OSHA’s Mandate Update

As of about a month ago, on May 19th, OSHA or Occupational Health and Safety Administration, sent a fresh look at their enforcement response to dealing with COVID in the workplace, in the event there’s a sick employee. Here are general preventative steps you need to know and what to do in the case of a COVID confirmed case. 

Unless you’re a small business with less than 10 employees or are considered a “low-hazard” industry, which there is actually a long list for, you will want to know these steps by heart. And even if you are a small team, these steps are important too. 

The basics remain:

Encourage any employees who have symptoms to stay home/work from home. 

Encourage employees to wash hands, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. 


3 Criteria Needed to Be Recorded by OSHA

  1. Confirmed Case of COVID-19
  2. Work-relatedness statement of virus-contraction
  3. Illness- resulting in death, days away from work (work from home, showing symptoms, etc), restricted transfer to work at another job, medical treatment (anything beyond first aid) or loss of consciousness

Report to OSHA within 8 hours of a known case. If there is a hospitalization, it must be reported within 24 hours. 

It’s recommended to inform your other employees of the case and to continue to encourage them to practice safety guidelines. 

Upon receiving news of a case, the workplace should make every reasonable effort to inspect the place of work for cleanliness. 

If there is a target area in the workplace that is suspected to need cleaning, a thorough, professional cleaning should be done immediately. 

How Can One Possibly Know If It Is A COVID-19 Case Contracted From Work?

The more important question is how did you react to this news?

Reach out immediately to the employee to check in on them. Then, dive into your own “mini-investigation” to do all you can do in the aftermath of hearing about a confirmed COVID-case. Protecting yourself by asking the right questions. 

Always err on the side of caution and assume perhaps the employee did get it at your place of work, not at the grocery store, or a random gas station pump. 

Do your due diligence and make every reasonable effort to determine if the exposure might be work-related. You MAY ask your employee their own testimony of how they believe they might have gotten it. 

While you CANNOT outright ask if their spouse/kids were showing symptoms or tested or personal medical information such as about testing, your employee may very well let you know that was or is the case. 

Survey other employees of their general wellbeing in case they have additional insight. 

In Conclusion: 

Safety is key. Compliance and the reasonable efforts you make to maintain a clean, safe work environment will allow you to work worry-free, even in a COVID-filled world (for now. 

Wash your hands! Take care, and let us know what we can do to serve you and the Watertown Community. 

If you have any questions about the guidelines, always visit the OSHA  or the CDC for additional resources. And don’t forget us as your local resource for information about your business or personal safety concerns, especially related to insurance and protecting your assets. 

J. M. Whitney Insurance is an independent insurance agency located in Watertown, Massachusetts. Give us a call, stop by, or request a quote online to find out how much we can save you on your insurance.

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