In a recent National News Release, OSHA revealed the current most frequently cited standards related to COVID-19 inspections. One of these standards is Subpart 1904-Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
In our blog, Reporting COVID-19 Cases to OSHA: Clearing up the Confusion, we clarified how OSHA defines a work-related COVID-19 incident and when the clock starts ticking for reporting cases of COVID-19. Now, let’s clarify the recording requirements for work-related cases of COVID-19. This will require a little investigative work!
Step 1 - Determine your recordkeeping status. Under OSHA's recordkeeping regulation, covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using OSHA Form 300-Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. In addition, employers are required to post a summary of this data on an annual basis using OSHA Form 300A-Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses as well as report the data electronically to OSHA using their Injury Tracking Application. However, there are some employers that are partially exempt from these requirements.
Step 2 – Confirm a case of COVID-19. Confirmation of a case of COVID-19 would be documentation from a healthcare provider that an individual has a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Step 3 – Distinguish work-relatedness. This step can be tricky! What OSHA will be looking for is if the employer made the effort to determine work-relatedness and if the determination is reasonable. Keep a memo of the conclusion you draw as to if the circumstance was work-related. Also, periodically review your infectious disease prevention policies to ensure they are current according to federal and local guidelines and are being adhered to.
The following are a few excerpts to consider, but we suggest you read OSHA’s Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for complete details. Considerations:
(1) ask the employee how he/she believes he/she contracted the COVID-19 illness;
(2) while respecting employee privacy, discuss with them their work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness; and
(3) review the employee's work environment and adherence to safety precautions for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure.
Keep in mind that the determination of the likelihood that the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace only needs to be based on information reasonably available at the time of the review. Also keep in mind that the initial conclusion may need to be updated if new information is received.
Step 4 – Verify general recording criteria. This is the last step! If you answered yes to ALL the steps above and answer yes to one or more of the following general recording criteria, as they relate to the case in question, it is recordable. Did the case result in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness? An employer must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.
Still feeling uncomfortable with how to handle employee notifications of exposure to COVID-19? Learn more
Notice: Keep in mind that this guidance is federal. Based on the location of your business, there may also be state specific requirements.
Recording and Reporting COVID-19 Cases to OSHA - FAQs
Note: This information is an excerpt from Federal OSHA’s FAQs. If you are in a state that has a state OSHA plan, those requirements will also need to be reviewed.
Q: An employee has been hospitalized with a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this in-patient hospitalization to OSHA?
A: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization "occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident." For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, 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. 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. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident and determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within 24 hours of that determination. See 29 CFR 1904.39(a)(2), (b)(7)-(b)(8).
Employers should note that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6)'s limitation only applies to reporting; employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19, as required by 29 CFR 1904.4(a). Learn more about recording cases of COVID-19.
Q: An employee has died as a result of a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report it to OSHA?
A: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers must "report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within thirty (30) days of the work-related incident." For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee died within 30 days of a work-related incident and determines afterward that the cause of the death was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within eight hours of that determination.
Employers should note that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6)'s limitation only applies to reporting; employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19, as required by 29 CFR 1904.4(a).
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