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OSHA Changes Its Recording Requirements for Adverse Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccine

On April 20, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance in the form of three FAQs for employers which addressed OSHA reporting requirements for employers recommending or requiring employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The guidance had stated that employers who are subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and who mandated the vaccine would be required to record any adverse reaction to the vaccine on the employer’s OSHA 300 log, if the reaction met other general recording criteria, such as days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, or medical treatment beyond first aid, even if it did not lead to hospitalization. Now, OSHA has reversed this guidance and has stated that employers will not be required to record such adverse reactions (at least through May 2022), as the US Department of Labor (DOL) and OSHA and other federal agencies, are working hard to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. A statement from OSHA says, “OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination and does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.”

Next Steps for Employers

OSHA’s updated guidance establishes a clear enforcement position that will remain in effect for at least another year, and during this time, employers will not need to record any adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine experienced by their employees, regardless of whether the vaccine is mandated or voluntary.

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