by Guy Page
The U.S. government watchdogs for worker safety are turning a blind eye to adverse employee reactions to Covid-19 vaccinations. Employers mandating employee vaccination do not need to keep records of adverse reactions.
In an effort to boost worker vaccination, The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will not require employers to follow its own regulations to record and report worker side-effects from Covid-19 vaccination, the OSHA website says.
The following is printed verbatim from the current OSHA “Frequently Asked Questions” page:
Are adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine recordable on the OSHA recordkeeping log?
DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. 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. As a result, OSHA 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. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.
According to National Law Review, the new guidance was posted May 21, 2021. NLR offers this interpretation of the rationale behind the OSHA ruling:
“There is no doubt that OSHA’s guidance created a disincentive for employers to mandate that their employees get vaccinated,” the NLR article explains. “With a mandatory vaccination policy, the guidance ensured that employees’ adverse reactions (with arguably little correlation to actual work-related injuries) could end up on a company’s OSHA recordkeeping logs—which could, in turn, negatively affect its insurance rates and, in some industries, its ability to bid for work.”
It is unclear whether state OSHA offices – such as the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration – are bound by the federal OSHA guidelines in this issue.
NLR notes that the revision “is a welcome relief to employers.”
“Recordability of an adverse reaction from an employee’s COVID-19 vaccine was an administrative challenge, and many employers expressed frustration with OSHA’s approach.”
Some observers say that avoiding administration challenges and frustration for employers hasn’t been a strong concern for federal regulatory agencies, and OSHA in particular. As stated plainly by OSHA, the real aim is to avoid discouraging of workplace vax mandates:
“Employers with mandatory vaccination policies felt they were unfairly targeted for having such [recording] policies, and, according to these employers, the guidance seemed counterproductive to OSHA’s goal of eliminating COVID-19 hazards in the workplace in that it discourages the use of mandatory vaccination policies.”