Is An Employee’s Adverse Reaction To The COVID-19 Vaccine A Recordable Event For OSHA Purposes?

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
05/21/2021

You know the typical lawyer answer… “it depends.”  Vaccines are much more widely available and more and more employees are able to get vaccinated.  This also means more individuals may find themselves experiencing those adverse reactions (especially after that notorious second dose) that are causing missed work.  OSHA has issued updated guidance on when such reactions should be treated as recordable events in accordance with its requirements of reporting work-related illnesses and injuries.

According to OSHA, an adverse vaccine reaction will be recordable if it:

  • is work-related;
  • is a new case; and
  • meets one or more of the following recording criteria: days away from work; restrict work or transfer to another job; or medical treatment beyond first aid.

Whether a vaccine reaction is work-related depends on whether the employer requires or only recommends the vaccine.  If the vaccine is required, any adverse reaction that meets the recording criteria will need to be recorded on the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Report).  If the employer  only recommends or encourages vaccination, there is no recording requirements for adverse reactions (because they are not work-related), even when the employer makes the vaccine available at work or coordinates its employees receiving the vaccine at an off-site venue.  The employee’s choice to get vaccinated truly must be voluntary and employees should not be fearful of negative consequences for not getting vaccinated (such as impact on a performance evaluation or professional advancement) and cannot suffer any repercussions.

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