On 21 May 2021 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) establishing that employers do not need to record adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines on their OSHA 300 Logs, at least until May 2022. The enforcement position applies regardless of whether an employer requires, recommends, or incentivizes employees to receive the vaccine. OSHA removed from its website three earlier FAQs, which had distinguished an employer’s obligation to record adverse reactions from the vaccines based upon whether the vaccines were required or just recommended. OSHA had previously stated in one FAQ that adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines that are required by an employer would be considered OSHA-recordable if they met all other recording criteria of the rule. The Agency had stated that it would use its enforcement discretion not to cite employers that simply recommended COVID-19 vaccines, although the Agency suggested that under certain circumstances, an adverse reaction from a recommended vaccine could be considered OSHA-recordable.
OSHA’s new position clarifies that irrespective of whether an employer requires, encourages, or incentivizes employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, adverse reactions will not be considered OSHA-recordable injuries or illnesses and will be welcome news for employers as it establishes a clear enforcement position.