- Employers must report a work-related COVID-19 employee death to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within eight hours of learning about it, the agency said in guidance updated Sept. 30.
- It also said employers must report in-patient hospitalizations related to workplace exposure to OSHA if the hospitalization occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident, it said. An "incident" is a workplace exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
- When asked how that requirement — which comes from OSHA incident reporting rules — fits with the virus’ incubation period, a Department of Labor spokesperson said "OSHA regulations state that reporting requirements are triggered by a 'work-related incident,' rather than the appearance of symptoms." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SARS-CoV-2 symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure.
OSHA in May outlined COVID-19 recording requirements but the most recent update addressed reports made directly to the agency.
Overall, OSHA has declined to introduce strict, sweeping measures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In fact, a group of unions sued, aiming to force the agency to issue temporary emergency workplace standards. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, however, said OSHA was entitled to "considerable deference."
The agency has directed workers to report retaliation for raising coronavirus-related safety concerns, however. It told employees in April to "immediately” report any adverse employment actions suffered for reporting unsafe working environments. Generally, employment experts have recommended that employers implement guidelines from the CDC, including symptom screening, face-covering policies and social distancing.