OSHA Clarifies Coronavirus Reporting Requirements for Employers

Employers must track and report instances of workers contracting COVID-19 on the job, not those stemming from exposure to the new coronavirus while off the clock, OSHA said.

OSHA update—new guidance released 3/13/2020—comes as many workplaces are limiting operations and urging employees to work from home due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The guidance clarifies employers’ obligations to log injuries and illnesses at work.

There is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19. However, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure to COVID-19. Among the most relevant are:

  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
    • When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, 29 USC 654(a)(1), which requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

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