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OSHA Releases FAQ for COVID-19 Reporting Obligations

Applies to: All Employers
Effective: September 30, 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued an FAQ for employers to follow to determine reporting obligations when an employee becomes sick with COVID-19 in the workplace.

OSHA previously stated that employers must report a workplace illness or injury that results in (1) an in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours of a work-related “incident,” and (2) a fatality within 30 days of a work-related incident. The FAQ clarifies that a work-related “incident” includes an “exposure” to COVID-19 in the workplace, rather than when an employee develops symptoms or tests positive.

Moreover, if an employee is exposed to COVID-19 at work that results in in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours of the work exposure, the employer must report the 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. If the employer is aware of the hospitalization “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.”

Similarly, suppose an employee dies within 30 days of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. In that case, 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.”

Keep in mind that this clarification only applies to reporting. “[E]mployers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities,” as required by other provisions of the regulation.

Employers should update reporting protocols and train managers accordingly. OSHA’s FAQ can be found here.

For additional resources and guidance related to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace, visit OneDigital’s Coronavirus Advisory Hub.

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