April 13, 2020
Under OSHA’s general 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 the regulations; and
• Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in the regulations, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
Work related is defined by the regulations as follows: “if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment,” unless one of the listed exceptions specifically applies.
In the guidance issued on Friday, OSHA recognized that in areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers may have difficulty making a determination about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA has said it will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) there is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) the evidence was reasonably available to the employer. A very significant exception to this revised guidance is that it DOES NOT apply to employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions – those employers must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to the existing regulations.
OSHA’s articulated purpose for this revision is that it “will provide certainty to the regulated community and help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects.”
This information is accurate as of April 13, 2020, and is subject to change based on any new legislation.