Question: A large bank begins educating their lobby employees on the characteristics of the COVID-19 virus. They place signs in the lobby encouraging customers to stand six feet apart, provide hand-sanitizing disinfectant wipes and the janitorial service is cleaning in the morning and afternoon. However, the bank is not requiring temperature checks. Business is continuing face-to-face interaction in the lobby and surrounding offices. While the bank leaders praise employees for continuing their scheduled work, the CDC has communicated that COVID-19 is in the stage of community spread and customers continue to enter the bank lobby to conduct face-to-face business. An employee who conducts face-to-face business on a daily basis returns home every day after work and is socially isolated except for at work. The employee’s family is not leaving the house at all. One month into the pandemic, he and several other employees test positive for COVID-19 and he dies in a hospital. Is it recordable?
Answer: YES. On April 10, 2020, OSHA released temporary/interim guidance that relieves businesses of the presumption of work-relatedness for COVID-19 cases that result in injuries or death except for when “there is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related.” With the information given, we see the following supporting evidence: 1. The bank did not check for symptoms of employees and customers entering the bank 2. The bank did not do enough to ensure employees would not contract the virus at work by separating employees from customers 3. The employee alleges he only left his home for work at the bank lobby 4. The CDC has report COVID-19 was in the community spread stage during the time of infection According to the OSHA guidance, “examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.”