On September 30, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance employer reporting of COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities. The revisions apply only to the reporting of hospitalizations and fatalities to OSHA. Recordkeeping obligations remain the same. More on that in an upcoming post.

Here’s what employers need to know:

When must employers report a hospitalization to OSHA? The rule requires you to report a hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing that:

  • The employee was admitted to a hospital and
  • The reason for hospitalization was a work-related exposure to COVID-19.

But what if you don’t know this information right away? That’s okay. If you learn after the fact that a workplace exposure to COVID-19 caused the hospitalization, you must report to OSHA within 24 hours.

When must employers report a fatality to OSHA? The rule says deaths that occur within 30 days of workplace exposure are required to be reported. If an employee dies within that time frame, his employer must report to OSHA within eight (8) hours of learning that:

  • The employee died and
  • The cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.

It’s confusing, isn’t it? The trigger for reporting is when the employee died within 30 days of his workplace exposure. If the death is 31 or more days later, the employer need not report. But if the death falls within that 30-day window and the employer knows it was caused by a workplace COVID-19 exposure, the report must be made within 8 hours of the death.

How do I report a hospitalization or fatality to OSHA? Although you can call the the nearest OSHA office or the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-231-OSHA (6742), reporting online gives you a better paper trail. You’ll need the business name, the employee’s name, the location, time, and a brief description of the incident (which is the exposure), and a contact person and phone number for follow up.

Although OSHA guidance applies nationally, following your own New York re-opening safety plan is a great way to maintain a safe workplace.

Keeping track of all of these changes can be confusing. If you need help understanding them, call us. And if you need help developing a plan to protect your employees from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can work with you to develop those plans.