The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Friday issued interim guidance clarifying companies’ obligations with respect to recording and reporting cases of Covid-19 in the workplace. Per OSHA, many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses.
Employers are responsible for recording cases of Covid-19, if the case is a confirmed case of Covid-19, the case is work-related and involves one or more of its general recording criteria, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations.
Until further notice, however, OSHA will not require other employers to make the same work-relatedness determinations, except where:
- There is objective evidence that a Covid-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and
- The evidence was reasonably available to the employer, such as if information was given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.
The agency said the guidance enables employers to focus their coronavirus response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces, and otherwise mitigating Covid-19’s effects, rather than on making difficult determinations on whether cases of Covid-19 are work-related.
At the end of the day, companies need to take care of their workforces, contingent and traditional, regardless of reporting requirements. Many enterprises have already established hygiene practices and implemented mitigation efforts such as conducting temperature checks on workers before allowing them to enter facilities. Further, others have established procedures to communicate to their workforce as appropriate of potential exposure to a suspected case.
So tracking on some level is being done, regardless of the need to determine an employees’ source of exposure. When it comes to workplace safety and information, it is your brand, your company and your company’s reputation at stake.