By Brent I. Clark, James L. Curtis, Adam R. Young, Patrick D. Joyce, Ilana R. Morady, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA recently issued additional guidance addressing whether employers need to record an employee’s adverse vaccine reaction on their 300 Log.

Earlier this year, we blogged about OSHA’s guidance that an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is recordable if the reaction is: (1) work-related, (2) a new case, (3) meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid), and (4) the vaccine is required for employees.

As the COVID-19 vaccine initiative continues to be a top public-health priority in the United States, federal OSHA revised this guidance to say it “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.” In other words, employers now have no duty to analyze whether an adverse reaction to the vaccine is work-related and otherwise recordable. In all cases across all industries, OSHA indicates it will simply not enforce the recordkeeping standard with respect to adverse COVID-19 vaccine reactions.

Neither OSHA’s prior nor its updated guidance address reporting of serious illnesses, meaning the requirement for employers to call OSHA and report an adverse vaccine reaction that results in a death within 30 days or an in-patient hospitalization for medical treatment within 24 hours. Presumably, OSHA would exercise the same discretion for voluntary vaccinations, but the issue is not entirely clear.

OSHA justified this shift in policy as part of its efforts to encourage vaccination. The guidance states, “OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts.”

This should be welcome news to employers, many of whom have also made employee vaccination a priority. Employers who might have shied away from workplace vaccine mandates given the potential recordkeeping ramifications may now move forward with less concern.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.