OSHA Provides Guidance on When a COVID-19 Illness is Recordable
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued two recent press releases addressing the COVID-19 hazard. In its first press release, OSHA issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA's recordkeeping requirements as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19. The press release answers the question when an employer must record on its OSHA 300 log the fact that an employee has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus.
Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 , if the case:
Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;
Is work-related as defined by OSHA regulations;
Involves one or more of the general recording criteria under OSHA regulations, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
The press releases notes that construction employers and other employers outside the healthcare industry, emergency response, and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Understanding this difficulty, the press release notes that, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:
There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and
The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
OSHA's enforcement guidance provides that if a number of cases develop among workers who work closely together, this could be evidence the illness is work-related, if there is no other alternative explanation.
If you have questions whether a COVID-19 illness in your workplace is a recordable event under OSHA's recordkeeping rules, please contact either Philip Siegel or Benjamin Lowenthal of our office. You can e-mail Philip here, and you can e-mail Ben here.