According to recent OSHA guidance, COVID-19 (i.e., the coronavirus) is subject to the agency’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements at 29 CFR 1904. This means that employers who are subject to the OSHA recordkeeping and reporting rules must include and log employee illnesses related to the coronavirus when an employee is infected on the job. So while the common cold and Flu are exempt from work-related exposures, the coronavirus is not.
In addition to the recordkeeping and reporting obligations, OSHA has issued guidance setting forth applicable workplace standards that may apply to employers, including those pertaining to personal protective equipment (PPE) (Part 1910, Subpart I), the Sanitation standard (1910.141), as well as the General Duty Clause (OSH Act 5(a)(1)). In OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, the agency advises employers on various workplace controls to assist infection strategies, including:
- engineering controls;
- administrative controls;
- safe work practices; and
- personal protective equipment (PPE).
In summary, if the illness is not the result of a work-related exposure, OSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting Part 1904 standards do not apply. Employers may consult OSHA’s regulations and guidance to evaluate whether the illness is work-related.