With governments gradually easing shelter-in-place policies, businesses around the world are considering opening their offices again. As we approach this new reality, it is critical that employers follow guidelines designed to protect employees and their business. 

OSHA’s 7-Point Plan

To date, there have been 15,000+ employee complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related to employers’ lack of COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Charged with ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for employees by setting and enforcing standards, OSHA is stepping up their inspection and enforcement procedures and has implemented specific COVID-19 re-entry requirements that employers must follow. Violation of these requirements can result in costly citations and penalties. Here are the guidelines for re-opening your workplace under OHSA’s 7-Point Plan and you can download the complete document by clicking here:

  1. Infectious Disease and Preparedness Plan
  2. Infection Prevention Measures
  3. Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People
  4. Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
  5. Workplace Controls
  6. Follow OSHA Standards
  7. Classify Worker Exposures to COVID-19 Risk Categories

Worker’s Comp Insurance Changes

OSHA is not the only organization adding rules. Insurance carriers are also evaluating an employer’s COVID related safety and loss control program as part of their underwriting review. The questions fall into two main categories: Financial and Operational. Premium cost will be impacted either favorably or unfavorably depending on how the employer responds. Here are some sample questions that are now part of the insurance review for workers’ compensation as well as other lines of coverage such as general liability, employment practices, directors and officers, and fiduciary liability:

  • Financial
    • Describe the financial impact to the business since the pandemic began.
    • Describe the business plan for the next 6 to 12 months and the timeframe regarding the recovery of revenue to pre-pandemic levels.
    • Is your lending facility waiving covenant violations?
    • What cost containment measures are you implementing now and what is planned in the next 6 to 12 months?
    • Is the business planning to reduce any benefits or amount of any benefit including reducing or eliminating match?
    • If currently shut down, how long will it take to restart operations? Describe any challenges associated with a timely restart.
    • Has the business applied for a loan under the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program)? If so, what is the status?
  • Operational
    • Confirm the total percentage of employees that are: 1) working at a facility without disruption; 2) working at the primary facility with modified hours or duties; 3) working from home; and/or 4) furloughed.
    • If the business has furloughed employees, please describe the arrangement including continuation of employee benefits.
    • Describe the changes to daily operations to reduce exposure to transmission of the virus.
    • Describe how the business is monitoring evolving state and federal guidelines including the process to implement new procedures to maintain compliance.
    • Has the business incurred any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19? If so, how have these incidents been handled? Describe your written procedures to address suspected cases of COVID-19.
    • Describe any changes to your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) requirements as a result of the pandemic.

How to Prepare

Join Sequoia and our business partner, ESM INSITE, for a webinar on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 11am PT where we will take a comprehensive look at how COVID-19 is impacting the workers’ compensation landscape and the related re-opening requirements. We will discuss underwriting and regulatory changes as well as specific tools to ensure that your work environment is safe for your employees and that your risk management program is compliant. Click here to register.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2020 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Mary Beth Downs – Mary Beth Downs is a Senior Risk Advisor for Sequoia, providing property and casualty consulting services to our clients helping them protect assets, scale in the marketplace, and manage risk. As a Bay Area resident for the past 27 years, she enjoys volunteering in her local community and traveling within the state as much as possible.