OSHA Updates Its Guidance on Reporting COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Deaths

On October 1, 2020, OSHA  published additional frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) regarding the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of the coronavirus. In this updated document, the OSHA provides guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities and clarifies the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities. 

The FAQs are the latest effort by OSHA to provide employers and employees with more information about how it will enforce its standards and regulations during the pandemic. OSHA also previously published revised enforcement guidance detailing how OSHA will enforce the recordkeeping requirements of 29 CFR 1904 for employee coronavirus illnesses for all employers. While FAQs are not binding from a regulatory perspective, they provide guidance and represent the latest thinking by OSHA. 

The good news is that the new FAQs are more consistent with OSHA’s regulations governing injury and illness reporting. The new FAQs provide the following changes for reporting purposes: 

  • A “work-related incident” is defined as “an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace.” A May 19, 2020 OSHA Memorandum outlines the inquiry the company should use to make the determination of the exposure happened at work.


  • Hospitalizations must be reported within 24 hours from the time of the on-the-job exposure and subsequent hospitalization. The report must be made within 24 hours of the employer becoming aware that the employee was hospitalized due to the exposure and the exposure was work-related.

  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours if it occurs within 30 days from an on-the-job exposure or work-related exposure. 

The revised FAQs provide much more clarity regarding when COVID-19 work related exposures occur. If an employee becomes infected with the virus, employers now need to determine if the exposure was work related and the date and time of exposure in addition to the fate of the employee as this information will dictate what reports need to be filed with OSHA.  

There are two additional items to consider with COVID-19 workplace exposures. First, several states such as California, Virginia, and New Mexico have established their own reporting requirements.  Second, the federal reporting requirements apply to reporting only, not recordkeeping. For work-related incidents, the OSHA 300 Log must be updated, and an OSHA 301 Report must be completed upon receipt of notice that an employee suffered a work-related COVID-19 illness, which would typically require days away from work.  

For more information on this and other OSHA requirements, please contact or more information, please contact Printing United Alliance’s Government Affairs Department at govtaffairs@printing.org.  

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