News and Analysis
With plans being made to gradually reopen the economy, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports on what the new normal will look like across various industries.
“Manufacturers have redrawn factory floor plans and implemented processes, such as staggering shift workers or asking employees to take turns eating lunch in their cars to avoid cafeteria crowding, practices that may become standard as more plants come back online.” The Journal spotlights Tyson Foods, which has installed walk-through temperature scanners at its plants, sending home workers who show potential COVID-19 symptoms.
Yesterday, April 16, Gov. Mike DeWine said the “new reality” is that the workplace will look very different — with masks, sanitizing of surfaces, and employee distancing — until a vaccine is developed.
According to this article in Forbes, a recent national survey found the three most common ways manufacturers are keeping employees safe during the COVID-19 outbreak are:
- Health screening prior to the start of shifts;
- Maintaining distance within the factory; and
- Sanitization procedures (not enough manufacturers are doing this, according to the survey organizers).
The article provides examples of how companies are carrying out their protocols. 4/15/2020
OMA Connections Partners have provided valuable insight on a broad range of topics during the pandemic. Below is safety-related guidance published in recent days.
- Fisher Phillips on how to avoid wrongful death and injury claims for workplace COVID-19 exposure.
- Fisher Phillips on how measuring worker temperatures could lead to wage and hour claims.
- Benesch on planning for a return to normal operations after COVID-19.
- Fisher Phillips on the CDC’s relaxed return-to-work standards after COVID-19 exposure.
For a comprehensive list of OMA Connections Partners who offer coronavirus-related resources, visit the OMA’s COVID-19 Resources Page. 4/16/2020
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recently announced that, due to the impact of the COVID-19, it would postpone this year’s biennial open-enrollment period for employers to select a managed care organization (MCO) to medically manage workplace injuries. BWC will continue to publish its annual MCO Report Card, which will be available by the end of April on BWC’s website. 4/13/2020
The BWC Employer Services Division has announced it will implement two changes in payroll reporting requirements as a result of COVID-19. These changes may impact how you will report payroll for the upcoming (policy year 2019) true-up period.
Q: Is emergency sick leave and expanded FMLA paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act reportable when submitting true-up payroll?
A: No. Emergency sick leave and expanded FMLA paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will not be reportable to BWC for premium purposes
Q: How will employers report wages at true-up for operational employees who are teleworking as a result of Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order while receiving wages from the employer?
A: Employers are permitted to report operational staff currently teleworking to class code 8871- Clerical Telecommuter during a declared state of emergency. This will ease the economic impact of the COVID-19 state of emergency on the Ohio business community.
See the BWC FAQs page. 4/16/2020
OSHA recently announced it will not enforce recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 in most industries where there is ongoing community transmission. As reported, this announcement reverses previous guidance provided by the agency in March when the agency said COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, unlike the flu or common cold, would be considered a recordable injury.
This week, News Radio 610 WTVN (Columbus) host Joel Riley interviewed human resources expert Adam Calli, owner and founder of Arc Human Capital, LLC. Calli discussed a possible “tidal wave of lawsuits” against employers due to inadequate protective measures taken during the COVID-19 outbreak. He urged employers to take the necessary steps — including providing protective gear such as face masks — to lessen exposure risk and avoid possible lawsuits. 4/13/2020
Gov. Mike DeWine this week asked the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to send up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers to ease the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. On Friday morning, April 10, the BWC board approved the governor’s request in an emergency meeting. The BWC expects it will begin mailing checks to employers later this month. (For more, see this updated FAQ list.)
According to the BWC, this dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018. The bureau will apply the dividend to an employer’s outstanding balances first, including the recent installment deferrals. Any amounts exceeding outstanding balances will be sent to the employer. 4/10/2020
State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) has proposed a new legislation to expand Ohio’s workers’ compensation coverage by granting food packaging, food processing, and grocery store employees benefits if they contract COVID19 while at their place of employment.
The Patton bill comes on the heels of the recent introduction of other legislation that would expand workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are infected by the virus. 4/9/2020
Both the CDC and the DeWine administration now recommend wearing face coverings (not N-95s or surgical masks needed for health care workers) when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This includes at workplace environments. For the benefit of OMA members, here is the CDC’s guidance for use of cloth face coverings, as well as guidance from the Ohio Department of Health. (Note: Face coverings are not a substitute for distancing.)
Also, here is helpful insight from OMA Connections Partner Fisher Phillips on two common questions regarding DIY cloth face coverings.
If your business is having difficulty procuring face masks for employees, the Alliance has launched an initiative to source the materials necessary to potentially produce non-surgical-grade “loop masks.” Respond to our brief survey so we can assess the need for — and appropriate potential quantities of — these masks. 4/9/2020