Below are answers to three common questions about COVID-19 and employer obligations under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA):
Is there any OSHA standard or regulation that covers workplace exposure to COVID-19?
No. OSHA standard applies specifically to workplace exposure to COVID-19. However, the OSHA General Duty Clause requires all employers to provide a workplace free from known hazards. That includes known exposure to infectious diseases. So, OSHA does expect employers to take reasonable measures to protect workers from workplace exposure to COVID-19, including taking reasonable hygiene and sanitation measures and taking reasonable precautions in the event it comes to light that workers have been exposed. In the event of a workplace exposure, other OSHA standards may come into play, like the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard. For detailed OSHA guidance, please review the OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance document and the OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
If I become aware an employee has COVID-19 or has been exposed, do I have to report that to OSHA?
Not unless you have reason to believe the disease was contracted at work and it results in hospitalization or death. The duty to report workplace accidents or diseases to OSHA is very limited. Generally you must only report a workplace accident or illness if it also has resulted in hospitalization or death. In most cases, even when an employee tests positive, there will be no basis to conclude the disease was contracted at work.
Do I have to include employees who have conformed COVID-19 on my OSHA logs?
Only if there is clear evidence that the disease was contracted at work.
Information about COVID-19 and its impact on local, state and federal levels is changing rapidly. This article may not reflect updates to news, executive orders, legislation and regulations made after its publication date. Visit our COVID-19 resource page to find the most current information.