OSHA Issues Injury, Illness Reporting Reminder

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2022


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued its annual reminder to specific employers to submit the required injury and illness date for 2021 by March 2. OSHA began collecting the Form 300A data on Jan. 2.

Electronic submissions are required by establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

Rule Background

In January 2019, the Department of Labor reported that it had issued a final rule on the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” rule, which rolled back portions of the requirement to “better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker.”

The rule also rolled back the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year.

These establishments are still required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), however.

The agency proposed the rule in July 2018, saying it believed it “maintains safety and health protections for workers, protects privacy and reduces the burdens of complying with the current rule."

COVID-19 Reporting, Vaccine Requirements

In September 2020, OSHA updated its Frequently Asked Questions forum regarding the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19.

Among the updates, the FAQs provide guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, as well as clarifying the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.

The two Q&As of note are:

  • Question: An employee has been hospitalized with a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this in-patient hospitalization to OSHA?
  • Answer: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization “occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident.” For cases of COVID-19, the term "incident" means an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace. Therefore, in order to be reportable, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work. The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been in-patient hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19. Thus, if an employer learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident, and determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19, the case must be reported within 24 hours of that determination. OSHA adds to this that 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6) only applies to reporting, and is separate from the injury and illness records requirements.
  • Question: An employee has died of a work-related, confirmed case of COVID-19. Do I need to report this fatality to OSHA?
  • Answer: Under 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(6), an employer must “report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident.” Therefore, in order to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work.  The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.

More recently, earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to block the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, undermining President Joe Biden’s attempts to tame the virus from spreading.

While the ruling will no longer affect employers with 100 or more workers, the justices were reported to have allowed a requirement for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding.

Previously, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration published an emergency temporary standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their employees by Jan. 4.

Employers were also required to provide their employees with a weekly testing alternative to those who refuse or were unable to receive a vaccine, in addition to wearing a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.

Moving forward, if the Biden administration or OSHA is to revisit the matter, the justices added that if more tailored regulations were established, the mandate could be lawful given that “most lifeguards and linemen face the same regulations as do medics and meatpackers.”

In a more modest victory for President Biden, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that health care employees working in facilities that received federal funding would still be required to follow the guidance requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or testing. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh were reported to have joined the liberal justices to form a majority.

Looking to current numbers of vaccinations in the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 63% of the nation is fully vaccinated and of that group, only 37% have received a booster shot.

   

Tagged categories: COVID-19; Department of Labor; Good Technical Practice; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety

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