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OSHA Confirms COVID-19 is a Recordable Illness Under OSHA’s Record Keeping Requirements

On April 10, 2020, OSHA issued a memorandum offering interim guidance to its safety and health officers for enforcing the requirements for the recording of occupational illness related to coronavirus. In this memorandum, OSHA confirmed that COVID-19 is a recordable illness under OSHA’s record keeping requirements. If an employee tests positive for coronavirus, it is a recordable illness if it is “work related” and it involves one or more of the general recording criteria (medical care beyond first aid, days away from work, etc.).

Employers in healthcare industry, emergency response (emergency medical, firefighting, law enforcement) and correctional institutions must make work-relatedness determinations.

OSHA recognized that it may be very difficult to determine if a case of COVID-19 occurring in other industries is “work related.” OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR § 1904 to require other employers to make the same work-relatedness determinations, except:

1.         There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and

2.         The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. For purposes of this memorandum, 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.

If you must record a COVID-19 case, per the memorandum, the employer is required to refrain from entering the employees name in the OSHA Form 300 if the employee voluntarily requests that his or her name not be entered in the log.

Remember, an employer must report to OSHA if employee has been hospitalized due to occupational illness (potentially COVID-19, if “work-related”).  In that case, hospitalization must be reported to OSHA within twenty-four (24) hours, or a fatality within eight (8) hours.

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