In a 180-degree shift in policy, OSHA said on Friday that employers do not need to record adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines on their OSHA 300 logs.
The new guidance is in effect at least until May 2022 and applies regardless of whether an employer requires, recommends or incentivizes employees to get vaccinated. It rescinds previous guidance that said that employers that require their employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment must record any adverse reactions to the vaccine if the reaction is:
- Work-related (if getting the vaccine is a condition of employment, then it is work-related).
- A new case.
- Meets one or more of the general recording criteria specified in 29 CFR 1904.7.
In its updated guidance, the agency said it is working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations and "does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccinations," and also does not wish to disincentivize employers' vaccination efforts.
"As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904's recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency's position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward," the agency said.
Nick Hulse, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Charlotte, N.C., told the Society for Human Resource Management that the updated guidance "is a welcome reprieve" from OSHA's recording requirements.
"Whether it is through a mandatory vaccination program, or simply encouraging employees to receive the vaccine, employers no longer need to worry themselves with recording reactions," he said.
The change also means that construction employers won't have to worry about potential negative impacts from an increase in recorded illnesses and injuries. These could have included issues such as higher workers' compensation costs, fewer bidding opportunities and the number of future OSHA inspections when the employer is asked to produce their illness and injury logs, attorney Phillip Russell with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, told Construction Dive.