OSHA Issues Guidance for Recording COVID-19 Cases

OSHA Issues Guidance for Recording COVID-19 Cases

On April 10, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance for recording cases of COVID-19.  The memorandum provides guidance for enforcing the requirements of their recordkeeping standard 29 CFR Part 1904 with respect to the recording of cases of COVID-19. 

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (an individual with at least one respiratory specimen that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19).
  2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7.

OSHA understands that employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work.  In light of this difficulty, until further notice OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904 to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations, except where:

  1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation.
  2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.

Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR 1904.

OSHA hopes this enforcement policy will help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces, and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects, rather than on making difficult work-relatedness decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission.

This guidance has taken effect immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. Please frequently check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus for updates.

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