FAQ: Cal/OSHA Recording and Reporting Requirements for COVID-19 Cases

Frequently Asked Questions – RECORDING INJURIES ON LOG

  1. Do employers have to record COVID-19 illnesses on their Log 300?

Yes, California employers that are required to record work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses must record a work-related COVID-19 fatality or illness like any other occupational illness. To be recordable, an illness must be work-related and result in one of the following:

    • Death.
    • Days away from work.
    • Restricted work or transfer to another job.
    • Medical treatment beyond first aid.
    • Loss of consciousness.
    • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional.

If a work-related COVID-19 case meets one of these criteria, then covered employers in California must record the case on their 300, 300A and 301 or equivalent forms.  For work-related criteria, see Question 3 below.

See California Code of Regulations, title 8, Chapter 7, Subchapter 1, Article 2, Employer Records of Occupational Injury or Illness for details on which employers are obligated to report and other requirements.

  1. Does a COVID-19 case have to be confirmed to be recordable?

Pursuant to recent federal OSHA guidance, a COVID-19 case should generally be confirmed through testing to be recordable. However, due to testing shortages and a variety of other reasons, not all persons determined to have COVID-19 have been tested.

Thus, while Cal/OSHA considers a positive test for COVID-19 determinative of recordability, a positive test result is not necessary to trigger recording requirements. There may be other situations in which an employer must make a recordability determination even though testing did not occur, or the results are not available to the employer. In these instances, the case would be still be recordable if it meets any one of the other general recording criteria from Section 14300.7 described above, such as resulting in days away from work. Cal/OSHA recommends erring on the side of recordability.

  1. How does an employer determine if a COVID-19 case is work-related for recordkeeping purposes?

For recordkeeping purposes, an injury or illness is considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. An injury or illness is presumed to be work-related if it results from events or exposures occurring in the work environment unless an exception in section 14300.5(b)(2) specifically applies.

A work-related exposure in the work environment would include interaction with people known to be infected with COVID-19 working in the same area where people known to have been carrying COVID-19 had been; or sharing tools, materials or vehicles with persons known to have been carrying COVID-19. Given the disease’s incubation period of 3 to 14 days, exposures will usually be determined after the fact.

If there is not a known exposure that would trigger the presumption of work-relatedness, the employer must evaluate the employee’s work duties and environment to determine the likelihood that the employee was exposed during the course of their employment.  Employers should consider factors such as:

    • The type, extent, and duration of contact the employee had at the work environment with other people, particularly the public.
    • Physical distancing and other controls that impact the likelihood of work-related exposure.
    • Whether the employee had work-related contact with anyone who exhibited signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

See title 8 section 14300.5 for details and the exceptions.

  1. Is time an employee spends in quarantine considered “days away from work” for recording purposes?

No. Unless the employee also has a work-related illness that would otherwise require days away from work, time spent in quarantine is not “days away from work” for recording purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions – REPORTING INJURIES to Cal/OSHA

  1. When do employers have to report COVID-19 illnesses to Cal/OSHA immediately?

In addition to the recordkeeping requirements discussed above, California employers must also report to Cal/OSHA any serious illness, serious injury or death of an employee that occurred at work or in connection with work within eight hours of when they knew or should have known of the illness. (See section 342(a).) This includes a COVID-19 illness if it meets the definition of serious illness.  Failure to report carries a penalty of $5,000.

A serious illness includes, among other things, any illness occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment that requires inpatient hospitalization for other than medical observation or diagnostic testing. (See section 330(h).) This means that if a worker becomes ill while at work and is admitted as in-patient at a hospital — regardless of the duration of the hospitalization — the illness occurred in a place of employment, so the employer must report this illness to the nearest Cal/OSHA office. Reports must be made immediately, but not longer than eight hours after the employer knows or with diligent inquiry would have known of the serious illness.

 

 

Fed-OSHA Reporting Guidelines:  Employers have to report the following events to Fed-OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities
  • All work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees
  • All work-related amputations
  • All work-related losses of an eye

Employers must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of finding out about it. For any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss employers must report the incident within 24 hours of  learning about it. Only fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related incident must be reported to OSHA. Further, for an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, then incidents must be reported to OSHA only if they occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident.

 

 

  1. What if the employee became sick at work but the illness is not work-related?

For reporting purposes, if the employee became sick at work, it does not matter if the illness is work-related. Employers must report all serious injuries, illnesses or deaths occurring at work without making a determination about work-relatedness. For some diseases such as COVID-19, associated respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing can be caused by a variety of occupational exposures. It is important for employers to report these cases to Cal/OSHA so that the Division can make the preliminary determination of work-relatedness.

  1. What if an employee started to show symptoms outside of work?

Reportable illnesses are not limited to instances when the employee becomes ill at work. Serious illnesses include illnesses contracted “in connection with any employment,” which can include those contracted in connection with work but with symptoms that begin to appear outside of work. An employer should report a serious illness if there is cause to believe the illness may be work-related, regardless of whether the onset of symptoms occurred at work.

For COVID-19 cases, evidence suggesting transmission at or during work would make a serious illness reportable. An employer should consider factors similar to those described above in the answer to Question 3 under Recording:

    • Multiple cases in the workplace.
    • The type, extent, and duration of contact the employee had at the work environment with other people, particularly the public.
    • Physical distancing and other controls that impact the likelihood of work-related exposure.
    • Whether the employee had work-related contact with anyone who exhibited signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Where there is uncertainty about whether an employee contracted COVID-19 at work, the employer should err on the side of reporting the illness to Cal/OSHA.  Reporting a serious injury will trigger an OSHA investigation that may lead to further penalties, an employer is well served to determine whether the injury is work related or not as soon as possible.

  1. Do I report an illness even if COVID-19 has not yet been diagnosed?

Yes, even if a suspected COVID-19 case has not been diagnosed by a licensed health professional, an employer should still report it to Cal/OSHA if the illness occurred in connection to any employment related issue as described above and if it resulted in death or in-patient hospitalization.

  1. Am I admitting to liability when I report a serious illness?

No. Reporting a serious illness is not an admission that the illness is work-related, nor is it an admission of responsibility.

  1. How does the Governor’s Executive Order on COVID-19 and workers’ compensation eligibility affect Cal/OSHA reporting and recording requirements?

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-62-20 addresses eligibility for workers compensation benefits. FAQs on the Order are available on Cal/OSHA’s website. The Order does not alter employers’ reporting and recording obligations under Cal/OSHA regulations.

Source: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Reporting-Requirements-COVID-19.html

DISCLAIMER:  The contents of this newsletter are merely for informational purposes only and are not to be considered as legal advice.   Employers must consult their lawyer for legal matters and EPA/OSHA consultants for matters related to Environmental, Health & Safety.  Our newsletters can be accessed at www.epaoshablog.com.  Your comments/questions are always welcome.  Please send them to sam@cellyservices.com.

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