On September 30, 2020, OSHA published new guidance on employers’ obligations to report employee in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19.
Employers must report hospitalizations with 24 hours: In order to be reportable, an employee’s in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of exposure to the virus at work. If the hospitalization occurs later, it is not reportable. Furthermore, an employer’s duty to report is triggered when the employer knows both that the employee has been hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was COVID-19 exposure at work within 24 hours prior to hospitalization. Once the employer knows both, it has 24 hours to report the hospitalization.
Employers must report fatalities within 8 hours: In order to be reportable, a fatality caused by COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of exposure to the virus in the workplace. If the death occurs later, it is not reportable. Furthermore, an employer’s duty to report arises when the employer knows both that the employee has died of COVID-19 and that the cause of death was work-related exposure to the virus within the prior 30 days. Once the employer knows both, it has 8 hours to report the fatality.
Notably, the guidance does not specify how employers should decide whether or not a COVID-19 exposure was work-related for purposes of reporting hospitalizations or fatalities. Therefore, employers are left to follow prior OSHA guidance issued in May 2020 as to “whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a particular case” of COVID-19.
An employer may report a work-related COVID-19 hospitalization or death in any of the following ways:
- Calling the nearest OSHA office
- Calling the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); or
- Reporting online.
OSHA-covered employers must record all work-related confirmed cases of COVID-19. See Lake Effect’s prior blog on this topic.
Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about OSHA reporting obligations relating to COVID-19. For a deeper dive into this issue, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-333-5253. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates, from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching our blogs and emails for the latest information.
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