You’re not alone if you’re not sure whether you have to record work-related exposures to COVID-19 on your OSHA injury logs – many other safety managers are asking the same question.
Fortunately, OSHA recently released guidance on your obligations for recording coronavirus cases. The new document indicates that employers are required to record a COVID-19 illness if
• the case is confirmed to be coronavirus
• the case is work-related
• the case aligns with one or more of the general recording criteria, e.g., medical treatment beyond first aid
Even though OSHA doesn’t require employers to record an injury when someone misses work because he or she has the flu – it’s usually hard to determine where the person contracted the flu – the agency is mandating that employers track cases of COVID-19.
That means you must evaluate a coronavirus victim’s work duties and environment to decide whether workplace exposures either caused or contributed to the illness. If so, the condition must be recorded.
Note: You won’t have to immediately report COVID-19 cases to OSHA unless the victim dies or requires an in-patient hospitalization.
What it means to you: You’ll have to exercise a little bit of judgment about whether a coronavirus case must be recorded on your logs. However, keep in mind that it’ll be very hard for OSHA to prove that a COVID-19 case was work related – unless more than one staffer contracts the virus or a direct link can be drawn between the job and the illness.
(From the March 23, 2020, issue of OSHA Compliance News)