COVID-19 continues to cause concern for employers, but one concern they may be able to let go of is recording each employee diagnosis with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). Following a letter of concern, OSHA has released new guidelines that COVID-19 would not be a recordable injury for most employers and industries.
Apart from employers in Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Correctional Facilities, cases of COVID-19 among staff are only recordable incidents if there is a presumption of work-relatedness. This presumption is designed to prevent employers from investing valuable time determining the source of each COVID-19 infection.
Most employers only need to record a case when there is “objective evidence, reasonably available to the employer, that a COVID-19 case may be work related.” One example in the OSHA guidance explains that “objective evidence” of work-relatedness exists when numerous cases develop in a group of workers that works closely together and there is no alternative explanation for the cases. These cases are recordable if the “objective evidence” is reasonably available to the employer, for example, if the employer learns of the cases in the ordinary course of business or the employees provide the information to the employer.
The goal of this presumption is to allow employers to focus their efforts on implementing good hygiene practices instead of spending time determining whether an employee’s case of COVID-19 is from their larger community or their work environment.
It is important to remember, this presumption does not apply to Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Correctional Institutions. For more information on these guidelines, please review the expanded article or the complete Enforcement Memorandum from OSHA, listed below.