On April 10, OSHA issued enforcement guidance related to requirements for recording cases of COVID-19.
The accompanying press release noted that, under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and according to OSHA’s enforcement guidance, employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if it meets all three of these criteria:
- The case is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness.
- The case is work-related (as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5).
- The case involves one or more of the general recordkeeping criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
“In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, 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,” the release stated.
Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:
- There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related.
- The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
(Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904.)
The enforcement guidance itself explained OSHA’s rationale for taking this approach to recordkeeping: “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-related decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission.”