If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do about reporting work-related coronavirus cases, you’re not alone as OSHA recently added a section on reporting to its COVID-19 FAQ web page.
The new FAQ provides information and guidance on how to handle work-related coronavirus hospitalizations and fatalities.
Along with information on how to report in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, the FAQ includes:
- guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, and
- clarification on the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus cases.
For in-patient hospitalizations involving COVID cases, OSHA says “incident” means exposure to COVID-19, so under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), a workplace exposure requiring a hospital stay must occur within 24 hours of exposure in the workplace for it to be reportable.
In short, an employer “must report such a hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19.”
With COVID-related fatalities at work, according to the same standard cited above, an employer must report such a fatality if it occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident.
Again, “incident” means an exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, so for a coronavirus-related fatality to be reportable, it must have occurred within 30 days of exposure to the coronavirus at work.
So, when an employer learns that an employee died within 30 days of a work-related exposure to COVID-19 and the fatality was caused by that exposure, the case must be reported within eight hours of that determination.
For reporting only
The FAQ points out the cited standard’s limitations only apply to reporting and that employers who are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must still record work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities.
Based on the guidance in the FAQ, OSHA is withdrawing its citation against Georgia-based Winder Nursing Inc., which had agreed to pay a $3,904 for a reporting violation, according to an OSHA news release on the new FAQ.