Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance, effective May 26, 2020, that requires employers to now determine whether an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 contracted the illness at work. This new guidance REVERSES the previous OSHA guidance issued on April 10, 2020. In order to comply with the new guidance, employers will need to conduct an investigation to determine the cause or source of an employee’s infection of COVID-19 while also respecting medical privacy. If the employee contracted the illness at work or through work-related activities, the employer must record the illness on the OSHA Form 300.
According to OSHA guidance, a COVID-19 case must be recorded on the OSHA Form 300 if three criteria are met. The criteria are as follows:
- An employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19 (a positive test).
- The case is “work-related” (the work environment contributed or caused exposure to the illness).
- The illness results in death, days away from work, restricted work or the transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid or the loss of consciousness.
Employers must determine if the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace based on reasonably available information at the time of the investigation. OSHA does recognize that this may be difficult to determine and will consider all evidence that supports or doesn’t support the “work-relatedness.” Employers must comply with medical privacy laws, which include refraining from asking an employee about whether one of his or her family members has the virus or was exposed to the virus, while conducting the investigation.
OSHA recordkeeping is required for employers with 10 or more employees. Employers that are not required to maintain recordkeeping are required to report to OSHA any work-related illness that results in an employee’s death, hospitalization, amputation or loss of sight.
Specific CDC Guidance for Manufacturing Workers and Employers can be found here.
If you have questions about how this new guidance impacts your organization, please reach out to your Warren Averett advisor, or ask a member of our team to reach out to you.