April 13, 2020

Under OSHA’s general recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness.

Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if the case is:

  • Confirmed as a COVID-19 illness
  • Work-related as defined by the regulations
  • 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 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 with ongoing community transmission, employers may have difficulty making a determination about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did through exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases.

  1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related.
  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 provides certainty to the regulated community. It helps 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. It is subject to change based on any new legislation.

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

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