OSHA Revises COVID-19 Enforcement and Workplace Illness Recording Policies


After initially easing its enforcement and recording rules in light of the COVID-91 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reversed direction, with increased in-person workplace inspections and recording obligations.

Revised Enforcement Guidance – On April 10, 2020, OSHA issued an Interim Enforcement Response Plan, setting forth the instructions and guidance to OSHA personnel with regard to handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports. On-site inspections were essentially limited to situations involving high risk of transmission, with non-formal phone/fax investigations for those involving employees in medium or lower exposure risk jobs. In an updated Enforcement Guidance, effective May 26, 2020, OSHA states that it is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces, although it will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections.

Revised Recording Requirements – According to OSHA, employers must record confirmed cases of COVID-19 if they are work-related and meet the criteria for recording, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work. Such illnesses must be recorded on OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Report). In an April 10, 2020 Enforcement Guidance, OSHA announced that most employers would not be required to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases for purposes of recording workplace illness. OSHA has now issued a revised policy that all employers “must make reasonable efforts, based on the evidence available to the employer, to ascertain whether a particular case of coronavirus is work-related.”