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New Relaxed Enforcement for COVID-19 Recordkeeping Under OSHA

person holding clipboard and OSHA record keeping requirements related to COVID

There are now more than 500 confirmed coronavirus cases in Hawaii, with recent reports of cluster cases between employees at workplaces in Maui and the Big Island.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, there’s a good chance that one or more of your employees will contract COVID-19. If that happens, do you know what your recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 are under OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued interim guidance as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19. The guidance clarifies that COVID-19 is a recordable illness and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • The case is reasonably believed to be work-related; and
  • The case involves one or more general recording criteria (e.g. medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work)

However, OSHA realizes that ongoing community transmission may make it difficult for employers (other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations, and correctional institutions) to determine whether employees contracted COVID-19 due to exposures at work.

Until further notice, OSHA will not require these employers to make work-related determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:

  1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related.
  2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.

Employers in healthcare, emergency response, and correctional institutions must continue to make work-related determinations for recordable purposes according to OSHA standards.

The goal of this enforcement policy is to help employers concentrate their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in the workplace.

What does COVID-19 recordkeeping look like in practice?

Let’s touch briefly on what OSHA’s interim guidance on COVID-19 recordkeeping looks like in practice. In this example, we’ll use an employee for a foodservice company who contracts COVID-19.

If the employee was making deliveries to a hospital and in contact with high-risk hospital workers on a regular basis, then were would be objective data that the case was a work-related illness.

If the employee was driving a forklift in the back of a warehouse, had limited contact with other people, and your workplace follows social distancing and PPE guidelines, then it probably would not be a recordable incident under this new guidance.

If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace

Once a COVID-19 case is confirmed, for any of the reasons above, you should code it as a respiratory illness on their OSHA Form 300. If an employee voluntarily requests that their name not be entered on the log, you must comply.

For simplicityHR clients, we’ve got this covered for you. We are ready to assist with any questions you have and ask that you continue to report to us as usual so we can complete your OSHA 300 logs.

For COVID-19 cases (and for any other disability), keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to:

  • Treat this information as a confidential medical record
  • Engage in an interactive process with them
  • Provide reasonable accommodations

Confidential medical information may only be shared in very limited circumstances. However, employers do have an obligation to inform other employees of their possible exposure so they can take proper measures.

To safeguard privacy of the affected employee, exclude their name from all communication to other employees regarding the incident. Also do not indicate that someone is out sick on a schedule that other employees can see. Simply note that they are out of the office or unavailable.

Have a question for one of our HR experts? To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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