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On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its enforcement guidance for recording COVID-19 cases. On May 26, 2020, the previous memo on this topic will be rescinded, and this new memorandum goes into and remains in effect until further notice. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and thus employers are responsible for recording cases of it, if:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • The case is work-related; and
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria.

In addition, OSHA updated its interim enforcement response plan for COVID-19 with instructions and guidance to Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. On May 26, 2020, the previous memo on this topic will be rescinded, and this new update goes into and remains in effect until further notice. As workplaces reopen, OSHA will continue to ensure safe and healthy conditions pursuant to the following framework:

  • In areas where community spread of COVID-19 has significantly decreased, OSHA will return to its pre-COVID-19 inspection planning policy when prioritizing reported events for inspections, except that:
    • OSHA will continue to prioritize COVID-19 cases;
    • OSHA will utilize non-formal phone/fax investigations or rapid response investigations in circumstances where it has historically performed such inspections (e.g., to address formal complaints) when necessary to assure effective and efficient use of resources to address COVID-19-related events; and
    • In all instances, CSHOs must utilize the appropriate precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing COVID-19-related inspections.
  • In areas where there is sustained elevated community transmission or a resurgence in community transmission of COVID-19, Area Directors will exercise their discretion, including consideration of available resources, to:
    • Continue prioritizing COVID-19 fatalities and imminent danger exposures for inspection. Particular attention for on-site inspections will be given to high-risk workplaces, such as hospitals and other healthcare providers treating patients with COVID-19, as well as workplaces, with high numbers of complaints or known COVID-19 cases. In addition:
      • Where resources do not allow for on-site inspections, the inspections will be initiated remotely with an expectation that an on-site component will be performed if/when resources become available.
      • Where neither an on-site nor remote inspection is possible, OSHA will investigate using a rapid response investigation to identify any hazards, provide abatement assistance, and confirm abatement.
      • OSHA will develop a program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of fatality or imminent danger cases where inspections were not conducted due to resource limitations.
    • Utilize non-formal phone/fax investigation instead of an on-site inspection in industries where doing so can address the relevant hazard(s).
    • Ensure that CSHOs utilize the appropriate precautions and personal protective equipment to protect against potential exposures to COVID-19.

Both the guidance and plan are intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis.

Read the enforcement memo through the link attached to the title of this alert and click here to read the response plan.

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