16 Apr OSHA Releases Guidance Determining COVID-19 as a Recordable Illness
Courtesy: American Feed Industry Association
The American Feed Industry Association is a not-for-profit organization that represents the feed industry in industry-wide events, national and state legislation, etc.
Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an enforcement guidance with details on how employers should record occupational illnesses, specifically cases of the COVID-19.
Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an enforcement guidance with details on how employers should record occupational illnesses, specifically cases of the COVID-19. In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers – other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions – may have difficulty determining whether workers contracted COVID-19 due to exposures at work. In light of those difficulties, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion in order to provide certainty to the regulated community.
OSHA has determined that under its recordkeeping requirements in 29 CFR § 1904.5, COVID-19 is a recordable illness and employers are responsible for recording cases of the disease, if: the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and the case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7.
The American Feed Industry Association expects that it will be difficult for companies to determine whether a case of COVID-19 is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5. However, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR § 1904 to require other employers to make the same work-related 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. For purposes of this memorandum, examples of “reasonably available evidence” include information 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.
This enforcement policy should help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects, rather than on making difficult work-related decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission. If it is determined that a case is work-related, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and should be coded as such on the OSHA Form 300. Because this is an illness, if an employee voluntarily requests that his or her name not be entered on the log, the employer must comply as specified under 29 CFR § 1904.29(b)(7)(vi).
This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s webpage frequently for updates.