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OSHA Guidance and Standards Applicable to COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance on OSHA standards employers need to consider in response to COVID-19 (the coronavirus).  Among the many OSHA standards employers must consider are regulations governing personal protective equipment, sanitation, environmental controls, and injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping.  In a box at the top-right of this guidance, OSHA states:

“OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.

While 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2)(viii) exempts recording of the common cold and flu, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.”

OSHA workplace injury and illness recordkeeping standards generally apply to employers with 10 or more workers and require them to keep a log of every workplace injury or illness that requires medical treatment beyond first aid or that keeps a worker away from work for at least one day.

OSHA doesn’t have a specific rule mandating what precautions employers need to take to protect workers from COVID-19. Instead the agency expects employers to follow the “general duty clause” of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which says workplaces must be free of known hazards that can be corrected.

OSHA also reminds employers that:

“[T]here are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.”

OSHA has also issued a 35-page guide entitled Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 that is available here.

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