OSHA Abandons Previous Guidance Requiring Recording of Adverse Reactions to Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

As of May 22, 2021, employers mandating that their workers receive the COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required to record adverse reactions, according to a policy statement posted on May 22, 2021.

This statement effectively reverses and abandons previous guidance issued on April 20, 2021 in which OSHA stated that if an employer adopts a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, an adverse reaction to the vaccine was recordable on its OSHA 300 log if the reaction was work related, a new case, and met one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 C.F.R. 1904.7.  The April 20 guidance told employers that mandate vaccinations that any adverse reaction to the vaccination was considered work-related and needed to be recorded.

OSHA is now saying that it will not enforce the recording requirement as applied to COVID-19 vaccinations through May 2022 as OSHA is concerned that requiring employers to list adverse reactions was hurting vaccination efforts.  Specifically, OSHA does not want to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and does not want to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts.

Bottom Line

In issuing the latest policy statement eliminating recording adverse vaccine reactions, OSHA is ensuring that it is in line with the Department of Labor and other federal agencies in encouraging vaccination for the COVID-19 virus.  OSHA does not want to give the appearance that it is encouraging workers to refuse vaccinations or to discourage employer vaccination efforts.  By abandoning its recording requirement for adverse vaccination reactions until May 2022, OSHA is seeking to ensure that it is not a hinderance to employer efforts to vaccinate workers either through mandatory vaccination programs or through strong recommendation.