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OSHA Guidance on Recording Work-Related COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Illnesses

4/2/20
Revised: 1/27/21
Grainger Editorial Staff

OSHA requires that covered employers record their employees' work-related injuries and illnesses. The common cold and flu do not need to be recorded, according to 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2)(viii), but other contagious diseases, including COVID-19, can be recordable when an employee is infected at work.

COVID-19 cases are recordable if all three of these conditions are met:

  1. The case is confirmed as COVID-19 as defined by the CDC (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19)
  2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5
    • In a memorandum of July 7, 2021, OSHA noted that the transmission and prevention of COVID-19 has become better understood, so employers should be more able to determine when cases are work-related. 
  3. The case involves one or more of the general 29 CFR 1904.7(b)(1) recording criteria:
    • Days away from work
    • Restricted work or transfer to another job
    • Medical treatment beyond first aid
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or licensed health care professional
    • Death

OSHA’s memorandum of July 7, 2021 stated that employers aren't required to record days away from work due to vaccination side effects through at least May 2022, when the agency will revisit this guidance.

COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) Requirements

Many healthcare and healthcare support services organizations are also required to keep an additional COVID-19 log under OSHA's emergency temporary standard for the healthcare industry, which went into effect on June 21, 2021.

For organizations that are covered by this ETS, the COVID-19 log should record all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace, including asymptomatic cases, regardless of whether the cases were caused by workplace exposures. Employers that keep a COVID-19 log are also still required to record confirmed, work-related COVID-19 cases on their OSHA 300 injury and illness logs. 

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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