Is COVID-19 Reportable To OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued new guidance to help covered employers prepare their workplaces for an outbreak of COVID-19.
The guidance also included a reminder to employers that COVID-19 is a recordable illness. If you fail to record an instance of COVID-19, you may be subject to the same fines and penalties that you would face for failure to record other workplace injuries or illnesses. Keeping records of any workplace incidents of COVID-19 is recommended.
Are you a covered employer?
OSHA applies to almost every private-sector employer and some public employers. However, the recordkeeping and reporting requirements do not apply if you have 10 or fewer employees at all times during a calendar year or you qualify under the low-hazard industry exemption. Examples include banks, restaurants, and medical offices.
Even if you meet one of the recordkeeping exceptions, you still must report to OSHA within eight hours any workplace fatality; and report to OSHA within 24 hours any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
What forms are required?
If you are a covered employer, there are three forms you need to know about:
- Form 300 – log of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Form 300A – summary of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Form 301 – injury and illness incident report
Forms 300 and 301 should be updated throughout the year. Any time you have a recordable injury or illness, entries should be made. Entries must be made on the appropriate forms within seven days.
Form 300A is completed at the end of the year. It is a summary of the recordable injuries and illnesses contained on Forms 300 and 301.
For most employers, Form 300A will be electronically submitted to OSHA. You must also post an annual summary of Form 300A in your workplace from Feb. 1 to April 30 of each year. You are required to keep all forms for at least five years.
Some injuries and illnesses do not have to be recorded or reported, even if any injury or illness occurs at work. OSHA provides a full list, but exceptions include:
- Employee injury when they are at work, but as a member of the public rather than an employee
- Employee injury solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness or recreational activity
- Employee injury is the result of doing personal tasks, unrelated to their employment and outside of their assigned working hours
- Employee injury or illness surfaces at work but resulted solely from a nonwork-related event that occurred outside your work environment
Worker safety and the employer’s general duty
Regardless of recordkeeping and reporting exclusions, it is each employer’s duty to provide a workplace free from hazards. Liability waivers and other forms of disclosures do not protect an employer from being reported to OSHA by an employee or concerned individual. Every worker has the right to a safe workplace and to report concerns to OSHA without fear of retaliation. Make sure your employees are properly trained on your safety policies and whom they should report to if they become ill or injured on the job.
Train employees on your safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate exposure hazards where you can (create distancing between work stations or rework shifts to reduce the number of staff present in the building at one time), provide appropriate PPE, make available disinfectants and sanitizers throughout the workplace, and follow all recommended CDC guidelines.
Talk to your professional
OSHA reporting can be complicated. If you have questions about what incidents need to be recorded and reported, talk with legal counsel and/or your insurance professional. They may also have risk management tools (such as COVID-19 safety training materials and OSHA recordkeeping training) to help you understand your compliance requirements.
This content is for informational purposes only, should not be considered professional, financial, medical or legal advice, and no representations or warranties are made regarding its accuracy, timeliness or currency. With all information, consult with appropriate licensed professionals to determine if implementing any recommendations would be in accordance with applicable laws and regulations or to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.