News and Analysis
OSHA has expanded temporary guidance provided in a March 14, 2020, memo regarding supply shortages of N95s or other filtering respirators (FFRs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expanded guidance applies to all workplaces covered by OSHA where there is required respirator use.
OSHA field offices will exercise enforcement discretion concerning annual fit-testing requirements, as long as employers have made good-faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Respiratory Protection standard and to follow the steps outlined in the March 14 memo. 4/8/2020
OSHA this week issued a press release reminding employers that it is “illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.” According to OSHA, acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours. 4/8/2020
Manufacturers have questions about how best to “deep clean” their facilities to prevent COVID-19 infection, or how to disinfect after an employee becomes ill. At this time, the best guidance comes from the CDC’s revised cleaning and disinfection page, as well as this CDC instruction on how to clean and disinfect your facility when someone is sick. Both CDC pages were updated this week. 4/2/2020
On March 30, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced it is waiving all safety education and training requirements through June 30, 2020 for private employers enrolled in the following programs:
- Drug-Free Safety Program;
- EM Cap Program;
- Grow Ohio;
- Industry-Specific Safety Program;
- One Claim Program; and
- Policy Activity Rebate Program.
See more from OMA legal counsel Bricker & Eckler. 4/1/2020
Late last week, Gov. DeWine signed into law House Bill 197 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the legislation’s many provisions is one that tolls the statute of limitations for any administrative action or proceeding set to expire between March 9, 2020, and July 30, 2020.
According to this insight by OMA legal counsel Bricker & Eckler, this change impacts any relevant statute of limitations related to Ohio’s workers’ compensation claims. For new claims — which normally have a one-year window from date of injury for filing — HB 197 extends the statute of limitations to at least July 30, 2020 for claims of alleged injuries that occurred between March 9, 2019 and July 30, 2019. 4/1/2020
Ohio House Democrats this week introduced workers’ compensation legislation (House Bill 573) that would make COVID-19 an occupational disease under Ohio workers’ compensation law. Neither the bill nor its provisions were included in the emergency legislation (HB 197) passed this week. At this time, it does not appear that the workers’ compensation expansion bill will move through the legislature, but the OMA will continue to monitor the bill and update members as needed. 3/26/2020
The FDA has provided emergency guidance to communicate its policy for the temporary manufacture of certain alcohol-based hand sanitizing products. In short, the agency does not intend to take action against manufacturing firms that prepare such products for use by consumers and health care personnel during this public health emergency.
Upon completion of registration and listing, firms will receive automatic confirmation and do not need to wait for a further communication before producing and distributing such products. Email the FDA if you need help with facilitating this process. 3/26/2020
Wiping surfaces with disinfectants might not be enough to protect against COVID-19 coronavirus because cleaning practices tend to be spotty, according to a new study from Ohio State University.
The study’s author, Jason Stull, said the results serve as a warning, and that “regardless of where you visit, it’s also best to assume surfaces may be contaminated.” He pointed to another study showing the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive for up to three days on a plastic or doorknob.
Stull recommends people concentrate on cleaning surfaces that are commonly touched, such as doorknobs and countertops, and urges that these efforts continue even after the COVID-19 crisis. 3/26/2020
Recent events have raised many questions from employers regarding workers’ compensation. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has prepared this list of frequently asked questions to provide information about the coronavirus’ impact on its operations. 3/19/2020
The BWC has seen its investments drop by about 12.5% for the month due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on the stock market. The BWC board, which met Thursday, March 19, was informed that the total stock and bond market value of the State Insurance Fund has dropped about $3.1 billion, and across all funds, the value is down about $3.4 billion, according to Gongwer News.
The board approved an emergency rule change to allow BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud to postpone the managed care open enrollment period, perhaps until as late as May 2021. 3/19/2020