October 1, 2020

OSHA Seeks to Clarify Recording, Reporting Requirements for Work-Related Cases of COVID-19

A new list of frequently asked questions and accompanying answers published on OSHA’s website is intended to help employers apply existing injury and illness recording and reporting requirements to the coronavirus. The new FAQs address the reporting of in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities of employees resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19. OSHA explains that employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to the agency if the hospitalization “occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident.” The agency clarifies that for cases of COVID-19, the term “incident” refers to an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace.

“In order to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work,” OSHA’s website states. “The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19.”

In order for a fatality due to COVID-19 to be reportable to OSHA, the death must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. Employers must report to OSHA within eight hours of knowing both that an employee has died and that the cause of death is a work-related case of COVID-19.

Revised enforcement guidance previously published by OSHA in May describes how the agency will enforce its recordkeeping requirements for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. OSHA’s revised interim guidance explains what compliance safety and health officers will consider in determining whether an employer has made a “reasonable determination of work-relatedness.” According to the agency, it is sufficient in most circumstances for employers to ask employees how they believe they contracted the COVID-19 illness; discuss with employees their work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness, while respecting employee privacy; and review employees’ work environment for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure. OSHA states that the review “should be informed by any other instances of workers in that environment contracting COVID-19 illness.”

Further information and resources from OSHA about COVID-19 are collected on the agency’s website.