OSHA Makes COVID-19 Presumptively Not “Work Related” For Most Employers (And Their Duty to Record)

April 14, 2020

OSHA has just given employers cause for a huge sigh of COVID-19 relief.

COVID-19 is an OSHA recordable illness if, among other things, it is "work related." But how is an employer to figure out whether an employee got COVID-19 from work (as opposed to the grocery store, a family member, etc.)? Resolving that quandary, last Friday, OSHA essentially declared that COVID-19 is presumptively not work related for the purpose of OSHA recording rules (except for health-care, emergency-responder, and corrections workers). Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). That presumption can be overcome by objective evidence of work relatedness, reasonably available to the employer.

OSHA hopes this enforcement policy will "help employers 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."

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