Revised Guidance from OSHA When Work-related Infections Must Be Reported

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair

On September 30, 2020, OSHA released revised guidance redefining the triggering event determining when employers must report that a worker has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

These changes are contained in three Frequently Asked Questions added to OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage that outline the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related exposures to the coronavirus. The new FAQs offer guidance on how to apply OSHA’s existing injury and illness recording and reporting requirements to the coronavirus, how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, and define “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.

The guidance clarifies that, to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report such 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. Under the previous guidance, the 24-hour period started to run when a worker was diagnosed as having the virus.

The new guidance also requires that employers contact OSHA if a worker dies within 30 days of exposure to the virus while on the job. The former guidance required notification of OSHA if the worker died within 30 days of being diagnosed with the virus.

The three new FAQs are:

  • How do I report the fatality or in-patient hospitalization of an employee with a confirmed, work-related case of COVID-19?
  • An employee has been hospitalized with a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this in-patient hospitalization to OSHA?
  • An employee has died of a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this fatality to OSHA?

Link to the FAQs: