Early in March of 2020, when COVID-19 cases started developing in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, advised that a confirmed case of COVID-19 was recordable (and reportable to OSHA if a hospitalization or fatality resulted) if the case was determined to be work-related.
In general, all employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related illnesses and injuries. OSHA’s original guidance required employers to log COVID-19 on their OSHA 300 Form.
On April 10, 2020, OSHA recognized that because of widespread community transmission, employers could have difficulty determining if a worker contracted COVID-19 at work.
OSHA has released updated guidance on reporting requirements for employers with employees suffering from COVID-19 after recognizing the wide community spread of the virus. Employers are only required to report the illness if:
- There is objective evidence that the COVID-19 case may be work-related AND
- For example, several cases develop among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation
- The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
- For example, information was given to the employer by its employees or information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees
If an employer cannot trace the virus to the workplace, OSHA will not enforce the reporting requirement. If you have multiple employees with COVID-19, it is important to perform a “work-related determination” to assess whether an employee was infected at work. According to OSHA’s guidance, an employee is only considered infected with COVID-19 if there is at least one positive test for SARS-CoV-2 by that employee. If it is determined an employee(s) did contract COVID-19 at work, it is reportable as a “respiratory illness” on the OSHA 300 Form.