New OSHA regulations treat COVID-19 vaccination adverse reactions as work-related injuries when vaccination mandatory
As COVID-19 vaccines become widely available, the topic of whether an employer can mandate vaccination and what the implications of this would be have become an area of interest for employers. Some employers have made vaccination mandatory as a condition of employment, and clinical laboratories whose employees regularly risk exposure may consider taking this measure.
Recent U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, however, create an element of risk for employers considering making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory. A new frequently asked question listed onasks the following:
“If I require my employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment, are adverse reactions to the vaccine recordable?
OSHA answers, “If you require your employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment (i.e., for work-related reasons), then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related. The adverse reaction is recordable if it is a new case under 29 CFR 1904.6 and meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.”
This means that employers who mandate COVID-19 vaccinations areany adverse effects caused by the vaccination to OSHA and may become responsible for healthcare costs incurred because of the adverse effect.
Clinical laboratory directors who are considering mandating COVID-19 vaccination should be aware of the implications of this new guidance by OSHA. Additionally, clinical laboratories should be aware that there is aon whether employers mandating vaccination is even legal while COVID-19 vaccines are still under an EUA.