The construction industry is no stranger to reporting regulations when it comes to work-related injuries. Under the general rule, employers must report work-related in-patient hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident. Further, an employer must report a fatality that occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident. Under what circumstances must an employer report a work-related COVID-19 case and how long does the employer have to report it?
On September 30, 2020, OSHA revised its guidance regarding these questions. This new guidance replaces OSHA’s earlier position that reporting obligations were triggered by the confirmation of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Under the new guidance, OSHA defines the work-related “incident” as the employee’s exposure to the virus in the workplace.
To be reportable under the new guidance, an in-patient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must have occurred within 24 hours of the exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. The employer must report the in-patient hospitalization to OSHA within 24 hours of “knowing both that the employee has been hospitalized and that the reason for the hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19.” For a COVID-19 fatality to be reportable, the fatality must have occurred within 30 days of the exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. The employer must report the work-related COVID-19 fatality within eight hours of “knowing both that the employee has died, and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.”
Employers in the construction industry should review OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce and, with the ever-changing landscape, ensure they stay informed about the most recent changes to OSHA’s evolving guidelines.