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OSHA’s Response to Employee COVID-19 Complaints

By April 15, 2020No Comments

During normal circumstances, under OSHA’s Recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness and you as an employer are responsible for recording these cases should an employee contract the virus if:

  1. It is a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  2. The illness is defined (29 CFR1904.5) as work related. Defined as: “You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment.” See 3 29 CFR 1904.5 (b)(2) for exceptions.
  3. The illness requires medical treatment beyond first aid and the employee has days away from work.

OSHA realizes that aside from the medical profession and Emergency response companies it will be difficult for employers to determine if the employee contracted the virus due to work related events. This is why OSHA has decided to not enforce, until further notice,  its recordkeeping requirements that the employer must make that determination.  The exception to this is:

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

Remember that this exception is not for employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions. These employers  must continue to make work-relatedness determinations according to 29 CFR Part 1904.

In a nutshell, unless you as an employer know or are reasonably certain that the employee contracted the virus in a work-related event, until further notice, the illness does not need to be recorded on your OSHA Log.

If you have any questions or concerns, or if we can help you with any of your safety needs, feel free to give us a call or send us an email.  In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and stay home if possible.

Beth Hertzler

Author Beth Hertzler

Risk Solutions Consultant

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