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Risk Advisory: OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements for COVID-19 Cases

May 21, 2020
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OSHA recently relaxed their COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements for employers that are not engaged in health care, emergency response (emergency medical, firefighting, law enforcement) and correctional institution operations. The intent of the amendment to their original position is to help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces, and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, rather than on making difficult work-relatedness decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission.

OSHA’s original recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 required all employers to record cases as an illness if the following three criteria are met:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; [2] and
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7.

If an employer is not engaged in health care, emergency response (emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services) or correctional institution operations AND the COVID-19 case is confirmed prior to May 26, OSHA will not enforce the recordkeeping requirements 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; and
  2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. For purposes of their memorandum, 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 (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting, and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR § 1904.

As of May 26, 2020 OSHA, is rescinding their relaxed recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 cases and returning to the original set of requirements for all employers. Their May Memorandum provides additional guidance to help employers determine if COVID-19 cases are work related.  Due to the difficulty with determining work-relatedness, OSHA compliance officers are exercising discretion when assessing an employers’ efforts in making work-related determinations.

OSHA Memorandums:

  1. OSHA COVID19 Recordkeeping Memorandum – April 2020
  2. OSHA COVID19 Recordkeeping Memorandum – May 2020

View our most up-to-date risk advisory alerts here.


Should you have any questions or needs, please contact us direct or learn more from our Resource Center.

Adam Thomas
Senior Casualty Loss Control Consultant
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Jim Hedrick
Director Risk Management & Client Experience
513.847.0300
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Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.