OSHA Issues Interim Enforcement Guidance for Recording Work-Related Cases of COVID-19
In a recent VelocityEHS Blog, we addressed some of the finer points surrounding when and how employers must document work-related cases of COVID-19 under OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Requirements.
One of the largest areas of concern is that, with potentially large numbers of COVID-19 exposures occurring in the workplace, recording each of those cases could place an unreasonable burden on employers. Specifically, it may result in artificially inflated recordable injury rates (RIRs) and higher Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rates, which can negatively impact perceptions of the business by both internal and external stakeholders.
In an effort to relieve some of these concerns, OSHA has issued an interim enforcement guidance memo for regional administrators on how to address compliance with injury and illness recordkeeping requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Action is OSHA Taking?
The April 10, 2020 memo directs OSHA certified safety and health officers (CSHOs) to postpone enforcement of the requirement for employers to make work-relatedness determinations in cases of COVID-19, 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.
A critical distinction made in the memo is that OSHA’s interim policy DOES NOT apply to employers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions. Employers in these types of establishments must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904.
For a full description of OSHA Recordkeeping Standard enforcement policies, read OSHA Enforcement Directive CPL 02-00-135 Recordkeeping Policies and Procedures Manual
It’s important to note that OSHA’s interim guidance is temporary, and limited to the current COVID-19 crisis. Be sure to check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus, and visit the VelocityEHS Blog for updates.
VelocityEHS Can Help!
If you have questions about your obligations under OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Standard, Join our live webinar “OSHA's Recordkeeping Standard: Your Guide to Compliance” on Thursday April 16, 2020 or watch it on-demand
Until then, stay safe!