If an employer requires an employee to get a COVID-19 vaccination and that employee suffers an adverse reaction to the vaccine, does the adverse reaction have to be recorded on the OSHA 300 log? According to OSHA, under certain circumstances, yes it does.
The agency released new guidance April 20 on how employers should handle the recording of an employee’s adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccination.
As with other injuries and illnesses, an adverse reaction is recordable if it is:
- a new case, and
- meets one or more of OSHA’s general recording criteria, such as days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job or medical treatment beyond first aid.
However, the guidance adds one other caveat that makes an adverse reaction recordable: if the vaccine is a requirement for employees.
The guidance states, “If you require your employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment (i.e., for work-related reasons), then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related. The adverse reaction is recordable if it is a new case under 29 CFR 1904.6 and meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.”
So adverse reactions “are only potentially recordable on the OSHA 300 log where the employer mandates the vaccine,” according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
Recommend v. require
The law firm explains employers don’t need to record adverse effects from COVID-19 vaccines “they recommend, but do not require.”
For that exception to apply, the vaccine “must be voluntary in the sense that employees face no material adverse employment consequences for choosing to remain unvaccinated.”
What the guidance fails to say
As for mandatory vaccines, OSHA failed to define what sort of reactions would be considered work-related or how employers should conduct an analysis to determine whether or not an adverse reaction is work-related.
The guidance also fails to address the reporting of serious illnesses, such as those that require employers to call OSHA regarding a reaction resulting in a death within 30 days or an in-patient hospitalization for medical treatment within 24 hours.
One other thing to keep in mind: Employers in one of the 23 states that has its own OSHA plan may have more restrictive regulations on this, so it’s best to “check with qualified outside OSHA counsel” if you’re in one of those states.