By Barran Liebman LLP
Oregon law firm,
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued guidance on when employers need to record adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. OSHA’s guidance indicates adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are recordable on the OSHA recordkeeping log if it is:
A new case under 29 CFR 1904.6 (the employee has not previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affects the same part of the body or the employee previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affected the same part of the body but had recovered completely and an event or exposure in the work environment caused the signs or symptoms to reappear); and
Meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7 (it results in death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, or involves significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional).
If an employer requires employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related. The adverse reaction is therefore recordable if it is also a new case and meets one or more of the general recording criteria.
Employers do not need to record adverse reactions to recommended vaccines based on current OSHA guidance; however, the vaccine must be truly voluntary. This means, an employee who chooses not to receive the vaccine cannot suffer any repercussions from this choice. If employees are not free to choose whether or not to receive the vaccine without fearing adverse action, then it would be recordable if it is also a new case and meets one or more of the general recording criteria.
Employers (particularly those with employees in California) should also monitor state specific reporting requirements, which may differ from and be more stringent than the federal OSHA guidance detailed above.
For questions about vaccination and navigating COVID-19 in the workplace, contact Heather Fossity at 503-228-0500 or at [email protected]