OSHA has revised its recordkeeping requirements for employee COVID-19 cases, reversing guidance the agency published in April.

Under the revised requirements issued May 19, OSHA will enforce recordkeeping requirements for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers.

In interim guidance released April 10, OSHA had said employers outside the healthcare industry were not required to report employee COVID-19 cases.

Now the agency says it "is exercising its enforcement discretion in order to provide certainty to employers and workers."

"Until further notice, OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee COVID-19 illnesses for all employers," the agency said.

"Recording a COVID-19 illness does not, of itself, mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard. And pursuant to existing regulations, employers with 10 or fewer employees and certain employers in low hazard industries have no recording obligations.

"They need only report work-related COVID-19 illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee's in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye."

Recordable Illness

As coronavirus is a recordable illness under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, employers are responsible for recording cases if:

OSHA said its new enforcement guidelines were issued as more businesses began reopening in areas of the country reporting lower virus transmission rates.

"The rate of new cases, new hospitalizations, and deaths are decreasing in most parts of the country," OSHA officials said.

"OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools as OHSA has historically done."

'Reasonable' efforts

OSHA's latest guidance emphasizes that employers must make reasonable efforts, based on available evidence, to determine whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.

"If, after the reasonable and good faith inquiry ... the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a particular case of COVID-19, the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness," officials said.

"In all events, it is important as a matter of worker health and safety, as well as public health, for an employer to examine COVID-19 cases among workers and respond appropriately to protect workers, regardless of whether a case is ultimately determined to be work-related."

For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).