May 25, 2020

OSHA Changes COVID-19 Recordkeeping Requirements

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced last week that it will now require employers to record positive employee COVID-19 cases if it is determined that the employee contracted the virus during normal work activities.

This announcement represents a reversal from OSHA’s previous enforcement policy. The new policy, which went into effect May 26, will force businesses to make the difficult determination whether an employee contracted COVID-19 at work.

OSHA also announced last week that it plans to increase workplace inspections since “many non-critical businesses have begun to reopen in areas of lower community spread.”

That announcement also was a change from previous policy. On April 13, OSHA released an interim enforcement plan that said on-site inspections are only warranted in response to a complaint in a high-risk industry like health care.

The agency now says it will follow normal inspection procedures where “community spread of COVID-19 has significantly decreased,” while in areas with a “sustained elevated community transmission or a resurgence in community transmission,”

OSHA will prioritize high-risk industries and workplaces that have reported a large number of complaints. Complaints “alleging unprotected exposures to COVID-19 for workers with a high/very high risk of transmission” will trigger an on-site inspection.