To Record Vaccine Reactions Or Not - The Form 300 Question
Do either Cal/OSHA or Fed/OSHA require employers to record instances of reactions to COVID-19 vaccines as a “workplace” injury or illness on the “Form 300”?
Fed/OSHA’s FAQs clarify that when an employer mandates vaccinations, illnesses or adverse reactions to the vaccine will be considered work-related and thus recordable on Form 300, as long as it is a: (1) new case and (2) meets one or more of the general recording criteria below:
- one or more days away from work;
- restricted work or transfer to another job;
- medical treatment beyond first aid;
- loss of consciousness; or
- a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional
(8 CCR 14300.7(b) – General Recording Criteria)
However, Fed/OSHA does not require employers to record vaccine-related illnesses or reactions where vaccination is optional. Even if the employer offers the vaccine at the workplace and/or is paid for by the company, as long as it is optional, illness or reactions will not be subject to reporting. Employee’s choice to get a vaccine must truly be voluntary, namely accepting or rejecting the vaccine must have no effect on employment status, good or bad.
Cal/OSHA has not issued a statement or updated its FAQs regarding how illness or reactions to vaccinations come into play under its emergency regulations. While Cal/OSHA may eventually take the position of its federal counterpart, keep in mind that it does not have to. Cal/OSHA only needs to have enforcement procedures at least as effective as Fed/OSHA, and, as most employers have experienced, Cal/OSHA frequently has more stringent enforcement mechanisms. While it is hopeful that Cal/OSHA will adopt Fed/OSHA guidance concerning vaccine-related illnesses, we just do not know. Therefore, until Cal/OSHA provides additional guidance, California employers should continue to record adverse vaccine reactions that occur in their workforce that meet any of the categories listed under 8 CCR 14300.7(b), IF the company (1) mandates vaccinations, or (2) offers, pays for, or encourages vaccinations for its employees.