OSHA Has Issued a New Guidance Addressing Reporting of COVID-19 Cases

On October 1, 2020, OSHA issued a new guidance that addresses the circumstances under which cases of a COVID-related hospital admission or a fatality must be reported to the OSHA.

The new guidance for cases resulting in a hospital admission uses the following language:

Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization “occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident.” For cases of COVID-19, the term “incident” means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident, and determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within 24 hours of that determination.

For a COVID-19-related fatality, the guidance quotes language from 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), that “an employer must report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within thirty (30) days of the work-related incident”.  Therefore, it says, in order to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work.   The employer must report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours of knowing “both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19”.

For both sections, the guidance reminds employers that this limitation only applies to reporting and states that employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Anne-Marie L. Storey, Attorney at Law, Rudman Winchell
Anne-Marie Storey, Esq
Rudman Winchell