OSHA Has Issued a New Guidance Addressing Reporting of COVID-19 Cases
On October 1, 2020, OSHA issued new guidance that addresses the circumstances under which cases of 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 24 hours of the work-related incident.” For cases of COVID-19, the term “incident” means exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of 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 the reason 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 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6):
An employer must report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident. Therefore, to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID must occur within 30 days of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours of knowing both that the employee died and 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. It states that employers required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed COVID-19 cases.