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Should Employers Record COVID-19 Infections as OSHA Recordable Injuries?

    Client Alerts
  • March 27, 2020

Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, employers must maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses. If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, under what circumstances should the employer include this as a recordable illness?

The OSHA recordable requirements only apply to work-related incidents. In most cases, employers will not be able to determine whether a COVID-19 infection occurred in the workplace. Early in the pandemic, public health officials were able to trace infections to specific sources, including in some situations business conferences or other meetings. At this point given overall community spread, this determination may no longer be possible.

The other situations where employers may want to consider recording COVID-19 infections involve health care workers directly treating coronavirus patients. In these situations, the employer could take a cautious approach by assuming that the workers contracted the disease through workplace contact. If a health care worker is hospitalized as the result of suspected workplace COVID-19 exposure, the employer may also consider notifying OSHA within 24 hours of admittance.

It is unlikely that OSHA will cite employers for failure to record COVID-19 infections absent egregious circumstances. The agency may issue additional guidance as more employers ask questions about their recording obligations.

You can find Parker Poe's additional alerts related to COVID-19 here.