The Tree Care Industry and COVID-19

Updated July 8, 2020

TCIA advises our members to check back to this page often for updates on actions by Congress and other COVID-19 news that may impact the tree care industry. Many of the links on this website will bring you to outside websites.

Guidance for Preparing Your Company for COVID-19 Q & A’s Tailored for the Tree Care Industry

WORKPLACE

  • Q: Is COVID-19 an OSHA recordable illness for tree care companies?
    (HOVER TO SEE ANSWER)

    • ANSWER: It depends. In April, OSHA released guidelines saying that COVID-19 was generally not a recordable illness. However, they have recently updated this guidance. COVID-19 is a recordable illness if: The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);

      1. 1.The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and,
      2. 2.The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7 

      You can read the full guidance from OSHA here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf. Per OSHA: “Recording a COVID-19 illness does not, of itself, mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. And pursuant to existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations; they need only report work-related COVID-19 illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee's in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.” Tree care companies should continue to be aware of the risks of COVID-19 spreading within a workplace, continue to carefully review cases, and contact legal counsel with specific questions on this requirement.

  • Q: How do I handle absenteeism during this time?

    • ANSWER: Employees may be absent from work for many reasons during this time. They may be sick and wanting to practice social distance to mitigate the spread of the virus, or helping a family member who is sick. Employees may also be absent because many schools are canceled, and they need to be home to take care of their children. Understanding this temporary absenteeism is the best way to support your employees, the health of your tree care company and limiting the spread of the virus in your community.
  • Q: Should my company require a doctor’s note when an employee calls out sick?

    • ANSWER: At this time the healthcare providers are already overwhelmed with the influx of patients. We suggest you do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work.
  • Q: How should my company approach shared tools and equipment?

    • ANSWER: Shared tools and equipment should be wiped down with disinfecting wipes after each use, and employees should be supplied with gloves and sanitation supplies while out on the job. Discourage workers from sharing as much equipment as possible. Avoid sharing water containers to fill up water bottles and encourage employees to bring enough water for themselves for the day.
  • Q: How should my company approach shared spaces?

    • ANSWER: Depending on your arrangement of office, shop, and yard, try to observe the following. Only office staff, mangers and salespeople should enter the office. Only drivers and crew leaders should enter the shop. Any employees who do not need to enter the shop should remain outside in the yard if possible. Drivers and machine operators are to completely disinfect the vehicles often and always at the end of each shift. Office space should be sanitized daily. To prevent employees from coming into close contact with one-another, stagger shifts if possible and increase the physical distance between employees. Any office employees and salespeople who can work from home should be encouraged to do so.
  • Q: How should my employees address clients when visiting a worksite?

    • ANSWER: Place policies and procedures for your employees to take on the worksite to ensure their safety and your customer’s safety. Have your employees communicate with customers only through the phone, while giving them the tools to explain why they are practicing social distancing on the site. Online payment services may also be adapted to your company’s practice ensuring there is no potential for your employees to encounter someone who is infected.
  • Q: How do I address employees who are concerned about pay, leave, safety or their health in the workplace?

    • ANSWER: It is best to address these concerns right away with your employees. Provide them with the steps your company is planning to make to ensure the stability of the company and the health and well-being of your employees. Educate, train and provide useful information on ways they can help keep themselves safe while at work. Address safety, proper hygiene in the workplace and policies implemented for shared tools, equipment, and PPE. Informed workers who feel safe at work are less likely to be absent.

BUSINESS

  • Q: Does TCIA have an immediate resource I can take advantage of right now?
    (HOVER TO SEE ANSWER)

    • ANSWER: Yes! Through your membership with TCIA, you have access to a Savings4Member portal. Not only can you save on cleaning supplies that will be directly shipped to your office, but you can also access other Financial Support options. These benefits include but are not limited to consumer financing options, fuel cards, savings on payroll and credit card processing fees.
      You can access their portal by visiting their website.
  • Q: Are there resources out there for small businesses to help dull the impact of COVID-19?

    • ANSWER: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing loans up to $2 million for businesses hit hard economically by the coronavirus. The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans support small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as well as working capital. The loans can be used to pay debts, including payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the outbreak’s impact.
      You can read more about the SBA loans on their website here.
  • Q: What other measures are being considered by the Government to help the economy?

    • ANSWER: The Federal Government has provided various economic stimulus and relief measures for individuals, businesses, and other institutions. The Federal Reserve is providing loans to small and medium-sized businesses. More information can be found here. Additionally Congress various protections for employees with its Families First Coronavirus Response Act. TCIA is actively advocating for the interests of the tree care industry at the federal level and will do our best to support member initiatives at the state levels. 
    • ANSWER: At this point, the threat of state and local quarantines seems to loom larger every day. Unfortunately, much is still up in the air to the degree with which quarantines may be implemented in jurisdictions across the country. TCIA is actively working with federal authorities to advocate that tree care be considered “essential” at the federal level, so our industry can continue to operate with the least amount of disruption possible. Check back to this page often for updates and be on the lookout for news from TCIA on your social media feed and in your inbox!