OSHA Guidance

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has provided guidance on recording COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

OSHA has confirmed that COVID-19 can be a recordable work-related illness that must be documented on an employer’s OSHA 300 log in certain circumstances. OSHA advised employers to consider the following three factors in making that determination:

1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19,

OSHA advised employers to consult CDC guidelines to determine whether a case is considered confirmed, but for the purpose of recording requirements, an employee must have a positive, laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.

2. The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and

This question is likely to be the most difficult one for an employer to answer.  OSHA has discussed a number of things employers should consider as they attempt to identify potential sources of exposure.  According to OSHA, employers should rely on identification of employees with symptoms of COVID-19 and/or a history of travel to heavily impacted areas.  Employers should also consider whether employees may encounter someone infected with COVID-19 in the course of their duties.  OSHA’s previously issued guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 may help employers as they navigate this question.

3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

It is important to note that, if an employer determines that a confirmed case of COVID-19 is work-related, any in-patient hospitalization or death is reportable to OSHA in accordance with 29 CFR 1904.39.

For more information go to: https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-04-10/enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

OSHA also announced today an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic.  The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.  During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will utilize their inspection resources to protect workers exposed to the disease.  The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces.  The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus.  Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections.  The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections.  Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.  The response plan will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice.  It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.  For more information, go to: https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-04-13/interim-enforcement-response-plan-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.