To try to help employers grappling with the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA has been issuing interim guidelines to provide “enforcement flexibilities” regarding certain agency standards. Most recently, on Friday, April 10, 2020, OSHA issued interim guidance that relaxes the recording and reporting requirements when a worker tests positive for COVID-19. Before this April 10 guidance and because OSHA made it clear that COVID-19 could be a recordable illness, employers have been required to record and report a confirmed case of the virus in their workforce if they determined that it was work-related under the law.
Effective immediately and until further notice, however, employers in areas where there is ongoing community transmission and that are not in the healthcare industry, emergency response, or corrections are no longer expected to make such a determination, and therefore need not report a case of COVID-19, except when:
OSHA has justified this most recent “enforcement flexibility” by stating that it wants employers to “focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects, rather than on making difficult work-relatedness decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission.” Importantly, the April 10, 2020 Interim Guidance has not changed the reporting and recording requirements of employers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Lee D. Moylan is a partner in the labor & employment practice group at Klehr Harrison.