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OSHA Eases COVID-19 Reporting Obligations

April 17, 2020

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently released new interim guidance with respect to the recording of cases of COVID-19. While employers still must record those cases that are clearly work-related, the new guidance relieves employers of some responsibility for investigating and recording COVID-19 cases among employees.

For context, it has been – and it remains – that a work-related case of COVID-19 should be recorded on a company’s OSHA 300 log. OSHA’s new guidance addresses the difficulty in determining if a case is work-related, providing that employers need to report cases of COVID-19 only in the following circumstances:

  • There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related, such as where a number of cases develop among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and
  • The objective evidence is reasonably available to the employer, such as from information given to the employer by employees and information that the employer learns in the ordinary course of managing its business.

If both of those criteria are met, an employer should record the case on the company’s OSHA 300 log as a respiratory illness. Because COVID-19 is coded as an illness, if an employee voluntarily requests that his or her name not be entered on the log, the employer must comply. 

Importantly, the new guidance does not apply to the healthcare industry, emergency responders, and correctional institutions. Employers in those fields must continue to investigate all COVID-19 cases among employees and record all of those acquired at work.

OSHA’s guidance is complex. If you have questions about this guidance or any other COVID-19 workforce issue, please contact your relationship attorney or one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys.