OSHA says most employers don’t have to track worker COVID-19 infections

Agency clarifies responsibility for contractors, others.

May 01, 2020 |

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clarified employers’ responsibility to track workplace COVID-19 virus infections.

OSHA’s recordkeeping rule requires employers to include in federally mandated logs any work-related illness that leads to a worker missing a day or more on the job or receiving medical treatment more substantial than first-aid. The new guidance says that only employers in the health-care industry, emergency response organizations such as police and fire departments, and correctional institutions will have to determine whether employees contracted the virus on the job.

Construction contractors, manufacturers, and other employers won’t have to make that determination unless there’s “objective evidence that a Covid-19 case may be work-related” and “the evidence was reasonably available to the employer.” OSHA’s new guidance says objective evidence could include “a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation.”

OSHA had announced in early March that coronavirus cases would have to be recorded. Industry groups, including construction organizations, said it would be too unwieldy to determine if an employee became sick at a work site or contracted the disease elsewhere.

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