OSHA issues COVID-19 case reporting relief for contractors

On April 10, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued temporary guidance for recording cases of COVID-19 that provides relief to the construction industry.

OSHA's announcement provides certainty to the construction industry and helps contractors focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects.

OSHA now states that in areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work.

Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:

  1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation.
  2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.

For purposes of OSHA’s clarification, examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.

Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations. To view OSHA’s full enforcement memo, click here.

+