COVID-19 Workplace Exposures and OSHA Recordkeeping

COVID-19, Property & Casualty, Risk

OSHA recordkeeping considerations for workplace exposures to COVID-19

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance to assist employers in preparing their workplaces for handling potential COVID-19 exposures.

While OSHA specifically exempts employers from recording incidents of employees contracting “common colds and the flu” in the workplace, the agency noted that COVID-19 is not exempt.

Listed below are some considerations for employers when determining OSHA recordability:

  • OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
  • OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2)(viii)exempts the “common cold and flu” from the recordkeeping requirements. COVID-19, however, is not a common cold or flu. OSHA’s current guidance states that “COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.”
  • COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following criteria are met:
  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
  2. The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7(e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work or job transfer).

Key Takeaways

All cases may not be deemed recordable or work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5. It is important to conduct a comprehensive investigation in identifying whether the worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties.

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