Safety Records: Recording Work-Related Illness and Injury
Each employer is required by OSHA to keep records of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Specifically, they must record each fatality, injury and illness that is work-related, is a new case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria noted in Section 1904.7 (or the application to specific cases of Secs. 1904.8-11). Additional criteria apply to needle stick and sharps injury cases, tuberculosis cases, hearing loss cases, medical removal cases, and musculoskeletal disorder cases.
However, an employee report alone does not trigger recording; Abrams noted that “an employer can require evaluation by a physician or some other licensed health care professional. In addition, if a professional diagnoses a significant injury or illness and the employer then determines that the case is work-related, the case must be recorded.”
Safety Records: Exceptions to Employer Recording Requirements
There are some instances in which an employee illness or injury does not need to be recorded as a work-related incident:
- Employee was present in the workplace as member of the public
- Employee was engaged in a voluntary fitness program at work
- The common cold, flu etc., are not considered to be work-related contagious diseases
- Mental illness – without the opinion of trained healthcare professional – is not automatically deemed work-related
- Illnesses resulting from the employee’s food brought in from an outside source
- Illness or injury resulting from personal tasks completed during working hours
- Illness or injury resulting from self-grooming, self-medication or self-inflicted injuries (i.e., suicide attempts)
Safety Records: How do You Determine Work-Relatedness?
As you can see from the exceptions above, determining work-relatedness is the key to ensuring you’re recording everything you need to in your safety records. There must be a causal connection between the employment and the illness or injury before the case is recordable. OSHA has concluded that the determination of work-relatedness is best made by the employer, not by the healthcare professional or agency. Be careful though–Abrams explained that even though “OSHA has pretty much delegated the decision-making as to the work-relatedness of something to the employer . . . if you guess wrong, can they cite you? You bet.”
So, remember that the illness or injury is deemed work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing illness or injury. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries or illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception specifically applies.
Additionally, it’s important to note that the work event or exposure need only be one of the discernible causes; it need not be the sole or predominant cause.
However, you must consider an injury or illness to meet the general recording criteria, and therefore to be recordable, if it results in any of the following:
2) days away from work
3) restricted work or transfer to another job
4) medical treatment beyond first aid
5) loss of consciousness
You must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness (e.g., cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum).
Since the publication of the revised rule in January 2001, OSHA has received numerous questions about how the provisions of the new rule will affect the recording and reporting of injuries and illnesses in various situations. The purpose of this document is to provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions related to the revised rule.
Most of the questions that OSHA has received about the new rule are answered in the text of the regulation itself. Because the rule addresses, in clear and simple language, the most common recording and reporting questions that arise, it is important that persons with recordkeeping responsibilities read the regulation and supporting materials carefully. To facilitate this, this document provides electronic links to each section of the regulation. For sections of the rule not discussed in this document, please refer to the regulatory text.
The questions and answers in this document do not themselves impose enforceable recordkeeping or reporting obligations; such obligations are imposed only by the regulation. This version was last updated on [11/21/01].
To read the regulation: 1904.0 Purpose
Question 0-1. Why are employers required to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses?
The OSH Act of 1970 requires the Secretary of Labor to produce regulations that require employers to keep records of occupational deaths, injuries, and illnesses. The records are used for several purposes. Injury and illness statistics are used by OSHA. OSHA collects data through the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI) to help direct its programs and measure its own performance. Inspectors also use the data during inspections to help direct their efforts to the hazards that are hurting workers. The records are also used by employers and employees to implement safety and health programs at individual workplaces. Analysis of the data is a widely recognized method for discovering workplace safety and health problems and for tracking progress in solving those problems. The records provide the base data for the BLS Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the Nation’s primary source of occupational injury and illness data.
The purpose section of the rule includes a note to make it clear that recording an injury or illness neither affects a person’s entitlement to workers’ compensation nor proves a violation of an OSHA rule. The rules for compensability under workers’ compensation differ from state to state and do not have any effect on whether or not a case needs to be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. Many cases will be OSHA recordable and compensable under workers’ compensation. However, some cases will be compensable but not OSHA recordable, and some cases will be OSHA recordable but not compensable under workers’ compensation.
The exemption for establishments in certain industry classifications
To read the regulation: 1904.2 Partial exemption for establishments in certain industries
Question 2-1. How can I get help to find my SIC Code and determine if I’m partially exempt from the recordkeeping rule.
You can access the statistics section of OSHA’s internet home page, at http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/. Go to the website and choose SIC Manual and follow the directions. If you still cannot determine your SIC code, you can call an OSHA area office, or, if you are in a state with an OSHA-approved state plan, call your State Plan office. OSHA Office Directory
Question 2-2. Do States with OSHA-approved State plans have the same industry exemptions as Federal OSHA?
States with OSHA-approved plans may require employers to keep records for the State, even though those employers are within an industry exempted by the Federal rule.
Question 2-3. Do professional sports teams qualify for the partial industry exemption in section 1904.2?
No. Only those industry classifications listed in Appendix A to Subpart B qualify for the partial industry exemption in section 1904.2. Professional sports teams are classified under Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code 794, which is not one of the listed exempt classifications.
To read the regulation: 1904.4 Recording Criteria
Question 4-1. Does an employee report of an injury or illness establish the existence of the injury or illness for recordkeeping purposes?
No. In determining whether a case is recordable, the employer must first decide whether an injury or illness, as defined by the rule, has occurred. If the employer is uncertain about whether an injury or illness has occurred, the employer may refer the employee to a physician or other health care professional for evaluation and may consider the health care professional’s opinion in determining whether an injury or illness exists. [Note: If a physician or other licensed health care professional diagnoses a significant injury or illness within the meaning of §1904.7(b)(7) and the employer determines that the case is work-related, the case must be recorded.]
Deciding if an injury or illness is work-related
To read the regulation: 1904.5 Determination of work-relatedness
Question 5-1. If a maintenance employee is cleaning the parking lot or an access road and is injured as a result, is the case work-related?
Yes, the case is work-related because the employee is injured as a result of conducting company business in the work environment. If the injury meets the general recording criteria of Section 1904.7 (death, days away, etc.), the case must be recorded.
Question 5-2. Are cases of workplace violence considered work-related under the new Recordkeeping rule?
The Recordkeeping rule contains no general exception, for purposes of determining work-relationship, for cases involving acts of violence in the work environment. However, some cases involving violent acts might be included within one of the exceptions listed in section 1904.5(b)(2). For example, if an employee arrives at work early to use a company conference room for a civic club meeting and is injured by some violent act, the case would not be work-related under the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(v).
Question 5-3. What activities are considered “personal grooming” for purposes of the exception to the geographic presumption of work-relatedness in section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi)?
Personal grooming activities are activities directly related to personal hygiene, such as combing and drying hair, brushing teeth, clipping fingernails and the like. Bathing or showering at the workplace when necessary because of an exposure to a substance at work is not within the personal grooming exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi). Thus, if an employee slips and falls while showering at work to remove a contaminant to which he has been exposed at work, and sustains an injury that meets one of the general recording criteria listed in section 1904.7(b)(1), the case is recordable.
Question 5-4. What are “assigned working hours” for purposes of the exception to the geographic presumption in section 1904.5(b)(2)(v)?
“Assigned working hours,” for purposes of section 1904.5(b)(2)(v), means those hours the employee is actually expected to work, including overtime.
Question 5-5. What are “personal tasks” for purposes of the exception to the geographic presumption in section 1904.5(b)(2)(v)?
“Personal tasks” for purposes of section 1904.5(b)(2)(v) are tasks that are unrelated to the employee’s job. For example, if an employee uses a company break area to work on his child’s science project, he is engaged in a personal task.
Question 5-6. If an employee stays at work after normal work hours to prepare for the next day’s tasks and is injured, is the case work-related? For example, if an employee stays after work to prepare air-sampling pumps and is injured, is the case work-related?
A case is work-related any time an event or exposure in the work environment either causes or contributes to an injury or illness or significantly aggravates a pre-existing injury or illness, unless one of the exceptions in section 1904.5(b)(2) applies. The work environment includes the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The case in question would be work-related if the employee was injured as a result of an event or exposure at work, regardless of whether the injury occurred after normal work hours.
Question 5-7. If an employee voluntarily takes work home and is injured while working at home, is the case recordable?
No. Injuries and illnesses occurring in the home environment are only considered work-related if the employee is being paid or compensated for working at home and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of the work rather than to the general home environment.
Question 5-8. If an employee’s pre-existing medical condition causes an incident which results in a subsequent injury, is the case work-related? For example, if an employee suffers an epileptic seizure, falls, and breaks his arm, is the case covered by the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(ii)?
Neither the seizures nor the broken arm are recordable. Injuries and illnesses that result solely from non-work-related events or exposures are not recordable under the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(ii). Epileptic seizures are a symptom of a disease of non-occupational origin, and the fact that they occur at work does not make them work-related. Because epileptic seizures are not work-related, injuries resulting solely from the seizures, such as the broken arm in the case in question, are not recordable.
Question 5-9. This question involves the following sequence of events: Employee A drives to work, parks her car in the company parking lot and is walking across the lot when she is struck by a car driven by employee B, who is commuting to work. Both employees are seriously injured in the accident. Is either case work-related?
Neither employee’s injuries are recordable. While the employee parking lot is part of the work environment under section 1904.5, injuries occurring there are not work-related if they meet the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii). Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii) excepts injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents occurring on the company parking lot while the employee is commuting to and from work. In the case in question, both employees’ injuries resulted from a motor vehicle accident in the company parking lot while the employees were commuting. Accordingly, the exception applies.
Question 5-10. How does OSHA define a “company parking lot” for purposes of Recordkeeping?
Company parking lots are part of the employer’s premises and therefore part of the establishment. These areas are under the control of the employer, i.e. those parking areas where the employer can limit access (such as parking lots limited to the employer’s employees and visitors). On the other hand, a parking area where the employer does not have control (such as a parking lot outside of a building shared by different employers, or a public parking area like those found at a mall or beneath a multi-employer office building) would not be considered part of the employers establishment (except for the owner of the building or mall), and therefore not a company parking lot for purposes of OSHA recordkeeping.
Question 5-11. An employee experienced an injury or illness in the work environment before they had “clocked in” for the day. Is the case considered work related even if that employee was not officially “on the clock” for pay purposes?
Yes. For purposes of OSHA recordkeeping injuries and illnesses occurring in the work environment are considered work-related. Punching in and out with a time clock (or signing in and out) does not affect the outcome for determining work-relatedness. If the employee experienced a work-related injury or illness, and it meets one or more of the general recording criteria under section 1904.7, it must be entered on the employer’s OSHA 300 log.
Question 5-12. Is work-related stress recordable as a mental illness case?
Mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that have work-related stress as a contributing factor, are recordable if the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health care professional with appropriate training and experience (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, etc.) stating that the employee has a mental illness that is work-related, and the case meets one or more of the general recording criteria. See sections 1904.5(b)(2)(ix) and 1904.7.
Question 5-13. If an employee dies or is injured or infected as a result of terrorist attacks, should it be recorded on the OSHA Injury and Illness Log? Should it be reported to OSHA?
Yes, injuries and illnesses that result from a terrorist event or exposure in the work environment are considered work-related for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. OSHA does not provide an exclusion for violence-related injury and illness cases, including injuries and illnesses resulting from terrorist attacks.
Within eight (8) hours after the death of any employee from a work-related incident or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident, an employer must orally report the fatality/multiple hospitalization by telephone or in person to the OSHA Area office that is nearest to the site of the incident. An employer may also use the OSHA toll-free central telephone number, 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742).
Deciding if a case is new
To read the regulation: 1904.6 Determination of new cases
Question 6-1. How is an employer to determine whether an employee has “recovered completely” from a previous injury or illness such that a later injury or illness of the same type affecting the same part of the body resulting from an event or exposure at work is a “new case” under section 1904.6(a)(2)? If an employee’s signs and symptoms disappear for a day and then resurface the next day, should the employer conclude that the later signs and symptoms represent a new case?
An employee has “recovered completely” from a previous injury or illness, for purposes of section 1904.6(a)(2), when he or she is fully healed or cured. The employer must use his best judgment based on factors such as the passage of time since the symptoms last occurred and the physical appearance of the affected part of the body. If the signs and symptoms of a previous injury disappear for a day only to reappear the following day, that is strong evidence the injury has not properly healed. The employer may, but is not required to, consult a physician or other licensed health care provider (PLHCP). Where the employer does consult a PLHCP to determine whether an employee has recovered completely from a prior injury or illness, it must follow the PLHCP’s recommendation. In the event the employer receives recommendations from two or more PLHCPs, the employer may decide which recommendation is the most authoritative and record the case based on that recommendation.
What are the general recording criteria
To read the regulation: 1904.7 General recording criteria
Question 7-1. The old rule required the recording of all occupational illnesses, regardless of severity. For example, a work-related skin rash was recorded even if it didn’t result in medical treatment. Does the rule still capture these minor illness cases?
No. Under the new rule, injuries and illnesses are recorded using the same criteria. As a result, some minor illness cases are no longer recordable. For example, a case of work-related skin rash is now recorded only if it results in days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job, or medical treatment beyond first aid.
Question 7-2. Does the size or degree of a burn determine recordability?
No, the size or degree of a work-related burn does not determine recordability. If a work-related first, second, or third degree burn results in one or more of the outcomes in section 1904.7 (days away, work restrictions, medical treatment, etc.), the case must be recorded.
Question 7-3. If an employee dies during surgery made necessary by a work-related injury or illness, is the case recordable? What if the surgery occurs weeks or months after the date of the injury or illness?
If an employee dies as a result of surgery or other complications following a work-related injury or illness, the case is recordable. If the underlying injury or illness was recorded prior to the employee’s death, the employer must update the Log by lining out information on less severe outcomes, e.g., days away from work or restricted work, and checking the column indicating death.
Question 7-4. An employee hurts his or her left arm and is told by the doctor not to use the left arm for one week. The employee is able to perform all of his or her routine job functions using only the right arm (though at a slower pace and the employee is never required to use both arms to perform his or her job functions). Would this be considered restricted work?
No. If the employee is able to perform all of his or her routine job functions (activities the employee regularly performs at least once per week), the case does not involve restricted work. Loss of productivity is not considered restricted work.
Question 7-5. Are surgical glues used to treat lacerations considered “first aid?”
No, surgical glue is a wound closing device. All wound closing devices except for butterfly and steri strips are by definition “medical treatment,” because they are not included on the first aid list.
Question 7-6. Item N on the first aid list is “drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.” Does this include administering intravenous (IV) fluids?
No. Intravenous administration of fluids to treat work-related heat stress is medical treatment.
Question 7-7. Is the use of a rigid finger guard considered first aid?
Yes, the use of finger guards is always first aid.
Question 7-8. For medications such as Ibuprofen that are available in both prescription and non-prescription form, what is considered to be prescription strength? How is an employer to determine whether a non-prescription medication has been recommended at prescription strength for purposes of section 1904.7(b)(5)(i)(C)(ii)(A)?
The prescription strength of such medications is determined by the measured quantity of the therapeutic agent to be taken at one time, i.e., a single dose. The single dosages that are considered prescription strength for four common over-the-counter drugs are: Ibuprofen (such as Advil™) – Greater than 467 mg Diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl™) – Greater than 50 mg Naproxen Sodium (such as Aleve™) – Greater than 220 mg Ketoprofen (such as Orudus KT™) – Greater than 25mg To determine the prescription-strength dosages for other drugs that are available in prescription and non-prescription formulations, the employer should contact OSHA, the United States Food and Drug Administration, their local pharmacist or their physician.
Question 7-9. If an employee who sustains a work-related injury requiring days away from work is terminated for drug use based on the results of a post-accident drug test, how is the case recorded? May the employer stop the day count upon termination of the employee for drug use under section 1904.7(b)(3) (viii)?
Under section 1904.7(b)(3)(viii), the employer may stop counting days away from work if an employee who is away from work because of an injury or illness leaves the company for some reason unrelated to the injury or illness, such as retirement or a plant closing. However, when the employer conducts a drug test based on the occurrence of an accident resulting in an injury at work and subsequently terminates the injured employee, the termination is related to the injury. Therefore, the employer must estimate the number of days that the employee would have been away from work due to the injury and enter that number on the 300 Log.
Question 7-10. Once an employer has recorded a case involving days away from work, restricted work or medical treatment and the employee has returned to his regular work or has received the course of recommended medical treatment, is it permissible for the employer to delete the Log entry based on a physician’s recommendation, made during a year-end review of the Log, that the days away from work, work restriction or medical treatment were not necessary?
The employer must make an initial decision about the need for days away from work, a work restriction, or medical treatment based on the information available, including any recommendation by a physician or other licensed health care professional. Where the employer receives contemporaneous recommendations from two or more physicians or other licensed health care professionals about the need for days away, a work restriction, or medical treatment, the employer may decide which recommendation is the most authoritative and record the case based on that recommendation. Once the days away from work or work restriction have occurred or medical treatment has been given, however, the employer may not delete the Log entry because of a physician’s recommendation, based on a year-end review of the Log, that the days away, restriction or treatment were unnecessary.
Question 7-10a. If a physician or other licensed health care professional recommends medical treatment, days away from work or restricted work activity as a result of a work-related injury or illness can the employer decline to record the case based on a contemporaneous second provider’s opinion that the recommended medical treatment, days away from work or work restriction are unnecessary, if the employer believes the second opinion is more authoritative?
Yes. However, once medical treatment is provided for a work-related injury or illness, or days away from work or work restriction have occurred, the case is recordable. If there are conflicting contemporaneous recommendations regarding medical treatment, or the need for days away from work or restricted work activity, but the medical treatment is not actually provided and no days away from work or days of work restriction have occurred, the employer may determine which recommendation is the most authoritative and record on that basis. In the case of prescription medications, OSHA considers that medical treatment is provided once a prescription is issued
Question 7-11. Section 1904.7(b)(5)(ii) of the rule defines first aid, in part, as “removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs or other simple means.” What are “other simple means” of removing splinters that are considered first aid?
“Other simple means” of removing splinters, for purposes of the first-aid definition, means methods that are reasonably comparable to the listed methods. Using needles, pins or small tools to extract splinters would generally be included.
Question 7-12. How long must a modification to a job last before it can be considered a permanent modification under section 1904.7(b)(4)(xi)?
Section 1904.7(b)(4)(xi) of the rule allows an employer to stop counting days of restricted work or transfer to another job if the restriction or transfer is made permanent. A permanent restriction or transfer is one that is expected to last for the remainder of the employee’s career. Where the restriction or transfer is determined to be permanent at the time it is ordered, the employer must count at least one day of the restriction or transfer on the Log. If the employee whose work is restricted or who is transferred to another job is expected to return to his or her former job duties at a later date, the restriction or transfer is considered temporary rather than permanent.
Question 7-13. If an employee loses his arm in a work-related accident and can never return to his job, how is the case recorded? Is the day count capped at 180 days?
If an employee never returns to work following a work-related injury, the employer must check the “days away from work” column, and enter an estimate of the number of days the employee would have required to recuperate from the injury, up to180 days.
Question 7-14. If an employee who routinely works ten hours a day is restricted from working more than eight hours following a work-related injury, is the case recordable?
Generally, the employer must record any case in which an employee’s work is restricted because of a work-related injury. A work restriction, as defined in section 1904.7(b)(4)(i)(A), occurs when the employer keeps the employee from performing one or more routine functions of the job, or from working the full workday the employee would otherwise have been scheduled to work. The case in question is recordable if the employee would have worked 10 hours had he or she not been injured.
Question 7-15. If an employee is exposed to chlorine or some other substance at work and oxygen is administered as a precautionary measure, is the case recordable?
If oxygen is administered as a purely precautionary measure to an employee who does not exhibit any symptoms of an injury or illness, the case is not recordable. If the employee exposed to a substance exhibits symptoms of an injury or illness, the administration of oxygen makes the case recordable.
Question 7-16. Is the employer subject to a citation for violating section 1904.7(b)(4) (viii) if an employee fails to follow a recommended work restriction?
Section 1904.7(b) (4)(viii) deals with the recordablility of cases in which a physician or other health care professional has recommended a work restriction. The section also states that the employer “should ensure that the employee complies with the [recommended] restriction.” This language is purely advisory and does not impose an enforceable duty upon employers to ensure that employees comply with the recommended restriction. [Note: In the absence of conflicting opinions from two or more health care professionals, the employer ordinarily must record the case if a health care professional recommends a work restriction involving the employee’s routine job functions.]
Question 7-17. Are work-related cases involving chipped or broken teeth recordable?
Yes, under section 1904.7(b)(7), these cases are considered a significant injury or illness when diagnosed by a physician or other health care professional. As discussed in the preamble of the final rule, work-related fractures of bones or teeth are recognized as constituting significant diagnoses and, if the condition is work-related, are appropriately recorded at the time of initial diagnosis even if the case does not involve any of the other general recording criteria.
Question 7-18. How would the employer record the change on the OSHA 300 Log for an injury or illness after the injured worker reached the cap of 180 days for restricted work and then was assigned to “days away from work”?
The employer must check the box that reflects the most severe outcome associated with a given injury or illness. The severity of any case decreases on the log from column G (Death) to column J (Other recordable case). Since days away from work is a more severe outcome than restricted work the employer is required to remove the check initially placed in the box for job transfer or restriction and enter a check in the box for days away from work (column H). Employers are allowed to cap the number of days away and/or restricted work/job transfer when a case involves 180 calendar days. For purposes of recordability, the employer would enter 180 days in the “Job transfer or restriction” column and may also enter 1 day in the “Days away from work” column to prevent confusion or computer related problems.
Question 7-19. Does the employer have to record a work-related injury and illness, if an employee experiences minor musculoskeletal discomfort, the health care professional determines that the employee is fully able to perform all of his or her routine job functions, but the employer assigns a work restriction to the injured employee?
As set out in Chapter 2, I., F. of the Recordkeeping Policies and Procedures Manual (CPL 2-0.131) a case would not be recorded under section 1904.7(b)(4) if 1) the employee experiences minor musculoskeletal discomfort, and 2) a health care professional determines that the employee is fully able to perform all of his or her routine job functions, and 3) the employer assigns a work restriction to that employee for the purpose of preventing a more serious condition from developing. If a case is or becomes recordable under any other general recording criteria contained in section 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid, a case involving minor musculoskeletal discomfort would be recordable.
Question 7-20. Are injuries and illnesses recordable if they occurred during employment, but were not discovered until after the injured or ill employee was terminated or retired?
These cases are recordable throughout the five year record retention and updating period contained in section 1904.33. The cases would be recorded on either the log of the year in which the injury or illness occurred or the last date of employment.
Question 7-21. If an employee leaves the company after experiencing a work-related injury or illness that results in days away from work and/or days of restricted work/job transfer how would an employer record the case?
If the employee leaves the company for some reason(s) unrelated to the injury or illness, section 1904.7(b)(3)(viii) of the rule allows the employer to stop counting days away from work or days of restriction/job transfer. In order to stop a count the employer must first have a count to stop. Thus, the employer must count at least one day away from work or day of restriction/job transfer on the OSHA 300 Log. If the employee leaves the company for some reason(s) related to the injury or illness, section 1904.7(b)(3)(viii) of the rule directs the employer to make an estimate of the count of days away from work or days of restriction/job transfer expected for the particular type of case.
Question 7-22 If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination; is it recordable under OSHA’s recordkeeping rule?
If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination, the reaction is recordable if it is work related (see 29 CFR 1904.5) and meets the general recording criteria contained in 29 CFR 1904.7. A reaction caused by a smallpox vaccination is work related if the vaccination was necessary to enable the employee to perform his or her work duties. Such a reaction is work-related even though the employee was not required to receive it, if the vaccine was provided by the employer to protect the employee against exposure to smallpox in the work environment. For example, if a health care employer establishes a program to vaccinate employees who may be involved in treating people suffering from the effects of a smallpox outbreak, reactions to the vaccine would be work related. The same principle applies to adverse reactions among emergency response workers whose duties may cause them to be exposed to smallpox. The vaccinations in this circumstance are analogous to inoculations given to employees to immunize them from diseases to which they may be exposed to in the course of work-related overseas travel.
Question 7-23. An employee has a work-related shoulder injury resulting in days of restricted work activity. While working on restricted duty, the employee sustains a foot injury which results in a different work restriction. How would the employer record these cases?
For purposes of OSHA recordkeeping the employer would stop the count of the days of restricted work activity due to the first case, the shoulder injury, and enter the foot injury as a new case and record the number of restricted work days. If the restriction related to the second case, the foot injury, is lifted and the employee is still subject to the restriction related to their shoulder injury, the employer must resume the count of days of restricted work activity for that case.
Question 7-24. An employee is provided antibiotics for anthrax, although the employee does not test positive for exposure/infection. Is this a recordable event on the OSHA log?
No. A case must involve a death, injury, or illness to be recordable. A case involving an employee who does not test positive for exposure/infection would not be recordable because the employee is not injured or ill.
Question 7-25. An employee tests positive for anthrax exposure/infection and is provided antibiotics. Is this a recordable event on the OSHA log?
Yes. Under the most recent Recordkeeping requirements, which will be effective in January 2002, a work-related anthrax exposure/infection coupled with administration of antibiotics or other medical treatment must be recorded on the log. Until the new Recordkeeping requirements become effective, an employer is required to record a work-related illness, regardless of whether medical care is provided in connection with the illness.
Recording needle stick and sharps injuries
To read the regulation: 1904.8 Recording criteria for needle stick and sharps injuries.
Question 8-1. Can you clarify the relationship between the OSHA recordkeeping requirements and the requirements in the Bloodborne Pathogens standard to maintain a sharps injury log?
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard states: “The requirement to establish and maintain a sharps injury log shall apply to any employer who is required to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses under 29 CFR 1904.” Therefore, if an employer is exempted from the OSHA recordkeeping rule, the employer does not have to maintain a sharps log. For example, dentists’ offices and doctors’ offices are not required to keep a sharps log after January 1, 2002.
Question 8-2. Can I use the OSHA 300 Log to meet the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard’s requirement for a sharps injury log?
Yes. You may use the 300 Log to meet the requirements of the sharps injury log provided you enter the type and brand of the device causing the sharps injury on the Log and you maintain your records in a way that segregates sharps injuries from other types of work-related injuries and illnesses, or allows sharps injuries to be easily separated.
Question 10-1. If an employee suffers a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in only one ear, may the employer revise the baselines for both ears?
No. A Standard Threshold Shift, or STS, is defined in the occupational noise exposure standard at 29 CFR 1910.95(g)(10)(i) as a change in hearing threshold, relative to the baseline audiogram for that employee, of an average of 10 decibels (dB) or more at 2000, 3000, and 4000 hertz (Hz) in one or both ears. The employer is permitted only to revise the baseline in the ear where the employee suffered an STS change in hearing threshold.
Question 10-2. Which baseline is used to determine if a recordable Standard Threshold Shift (STS) has occurred this year?
Employers should use the same baseline that they would use to comply with OSHA’s Noise Standard, Part 1910.95. If the employer chose to revise an employee’s baseline due to a previous STS, then the employer would use the same revised baseline when determining recordability under section 1904.10 of the recordkeeping regulation.
Question 10-3. If an employee experienced a recordable hearing loss case, where would the employer record the case on the OSHA 300 Log?
Prior to 2004, employers should record work-related hearing loss cases according to the instructions included with the Recordkeeping Forms. If the loss is associated with an event, such as acoustic trauma (e.g., an explosion), it would be recorded as an injury with a check mark in column (M)(1). If the loss is not an injury, it would be recorded as an illness, with a check mark in the all other illness column. Beginning in January 2004, employers must record all hearing loss cases in the separate hearing loss column (M)(5).
Question 10-4 (This question was added to the directive on 1/12/2012). What rules must an employer ensure that a physician or other licensed health care professional use to make a determination that a hearing loss case is not work-related under section 1904.10(b)(6)?
Physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) must follow the rules set out in 1904.5 to determine if the hearing loss is work-related. If an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the hearing loss, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing hearing loss, the physician or licensed health care professional must consider the case to be work related. It is not necessary for work to be the sole cause, or the predominant cause, or even a substantial cause of the hearing loss; any contribution from work makes the case work-related. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the PLHCP applies the analysis in Section 1904.5 when evaluating work-related hearing loss, if the employer chooses to rely on the PLHCP’s opinion in determining recordability.
How to enter a recordable injury or illness on the forms
To read the regulation: 1904.29 Forms
Question 29-1. How do I determine whether or not a case is an occupational injury or one of the occupational illness categories in Section M of the OSHA 300 Log?
The instructions that accompany the OSHA 300 Log contain examples of occupational injuries and the various types of occupational illnesses listed on the Log. If the case you are dealing with is on one of those lists, then check that injury or illness category. If the case you are dealing with is not listed, then you may check the injury or illness category that you believe best fits the circumstances of the case.
Question 29-2. Does the employer decide if an injury or illness is a privacy concern case?
Yes. The employer must decide if a case is a privacy concern case, using 1904.29(b)(7), which lists the six types of injuries and illnesses the employer must consider privacy concern cases. If the case meets any of these criteria, the employer must consider it a privacy concern case. This is a complete list of all injury and illnesses considered privacy concern cases.
Question 29-3. Under paragraph 1904.29(b)(9), the employer may use some discretion in describing a privacy concern case on the log so the employee cannot be identified. Can the employer also leave off the job title, date, or where the event occurred?
Yes. OSHA believes that this would be an unusual circumstance and that leaving this information off the log will rarely be needed. However, if the employer has reason to believe that the employee’s name can be identified through this information, these fields can be left blank.
Question 29-4. May employers attach missing information to their accident investigation or workers’ compensation forms to make them an acceptable substitute form for the OSHA 301 for recordkeeping purposes?
Yes, the employer may use a workers’ compensation form or other form that does not contain all the required information, provided the form is supplemented to contain the missing information and the supplemented form is as readable and understandable as the OSHA 301 form and is completed using the same instructions as the OSHA 301 form.
Question 29-5. If an employee reports an injury or illness and receives medical treatment this year, but states that the symptoms first arose at some unspecified date last year, on which year’s log do I record the case?
Ordinarily, the case should be recorded on the Log for the year in which the injury or illness occurred. Where the date of injury or illness cannot be determined, the date the employee reported the symptoms or received treatment must be used. In the case in question, the injury or illness would be recorded on this year’s Log because the employee cannot specify the date when the symptoms occurred.
Question 29-6. Since the new system proposes to do away with the distinction between injuries and illnesses, is there guidance on how to classify cases to complete column M on the OSHA 300 Log?
An injury or illness is an abnormal condition or disorder. Employers should look at the examples of injuries and illnesses in the “Classifying Injuries and Classifying Illnesses” section of the Recordkeeping Forms Package for guidance. If still unsure about the classification, employers could use the longstanding distinction between injuries that result from instantaneous events or those from exposures in the work environment. Cases resulting from anything other than an instantaneous event or exposure are considered illnesses.
To read the regulation: 1904.31 Covered employees
Question 31-1. How is the term”supervised” in section 1904.31 defined for the purpose of determining whether the host employer must record the work-related injuries and illnesses of employees obtained from a temporary help service?
The host employer must record the recordable injuries and illnesses of employees not on its payroll if it supervises them on a day-to-day basis. Day-to-day supervision occurs when “in addition to specifying the output, product or result to be accomplished by the person’s work, the employer supervises the details, means, methods and processes by which the work is to be accomplished.”
Question 31-2. If a temporary personnel agency sends its employees to work in an establishment that is not required to keep OSHA records, does the agency have to record the recordable injuries and illnesses of these employees?
A temporary personnel agency need not record injuries and illnesses of those employees that are supervised on a day-to-day basis by another employer. The temporary personnel agency must record the recordable injuries and illnesses of those employees it supervises on a day to day basis, even if these employees perform work for an employer who is not covered by the recordkeeping rule.
To read the regulation: 1904.32 Annual summary
Question 32-1. How do I calculate the “total hours worked” on my annual summary when I have both hourly and temporary workers?
To calculate the total hours worked by all employees, include the hours worked by salaried, hourly, part-time and seasonal workers, as well as hours worked by other workers you supervise (e.g., workers supplied by a temporary help service). Do not include vacation, sick leave, holidays, or any other non-work time even if employees were paid for it. If your establishment keeps records of only the hours paid or if you have employees who are not paid by the hour, you must estimate the hours that the employees actually worked.
Question 32-2. If an employer has no recordable cases for the year, is an OSHA 300-A, Annual Summary, still required to be completed, certified and posted?
Yes. After the end of the year, employers must review the Log to verify its accuracy, summarize the 300 Log information on the 300A summary form, and certify the summary (a company executive must sign the certification). This information must then be posted for three months, from February 1 to April 30.
Question 32-3. If employers electronically post the OSHA 300-A Summary of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses, are they in compliance with the posting requirements of 1904.32 (b) (5)?
No. The recordkeeping rule allows all forms to be kept on computer equipment or at an alternate location, as long as the employer can produce the data when needed. Section 1904.32 (b) (5), requires employers to post a copy of the Annual Summary in each establishment, where notices are normally posted [see 1903.2(a)], no later than February 1 of the year following the year covered by the records and kept in place until April 30. Only the OSHA 300-A Summary form should be posted.
To read the regulation: 1904.35 Employee involvement
Question 35-1. How does an employer inform each employee on how he or she is to report an injury or illness?
Employers are required to let employees know how and when to report work-related injuries and illnesses. This means that the employer must set up a way for the employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses and tell its employees how to use it. The Recordkeeping rule does not specify how the employer must accomplish these objectives, so employers have flexibility to set up systems that are appropriate to their workplace. The size of the workforce, employee’s language proficiency and literacy levels, the workplace culture, and other factors will determine what will be effective for any particular workplace.
Question 35-2. Do I have to give my employees and their representative’s access to the OSHA injury and illness records?
Yes, your employees, former employees, their personal representatives, and their authorized employee representatives have the right to access the OSHA 300 Log Form and the OSHA 300-A Summary Form. The employer must give the requester a copy of the OSHA 300 Form and the OSHA 300-A Form by the end of the next business day. In addition, employees and their representatives have the right to access the OSHA 301 Incident Form with some limitations, in section 1904.35(b)(2)(v)(B) of the recordkeeping regulation.
To read the regulation: 1904.37 State recordkeeping regulations
Question 37-1. Do I have to follow these rules if my State has an OSHA-approved State Plan?
If your workplace is located in a State that operates an OSHA-approved State Plan, you must follow the regulations of the State. However, these States must adopt occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in Part 1904. State Plan States must have the same requirements as Federal OSHA for determining which injuries and illnesses are recordable and how they are recorded.
Question 37-2. How may state regulations differ from the Federal requirements?
For Part 1904 provisions other than recording and reporting, State requirements may be more stringent than or supplemental to the Federal requirements. For example, a State Plan could require employers to keep records for the State, even though those employers have 10 or fewer employees (1904.1) or are within an industry exempted by the Federal rule. A State Plan could also require employers to keep additional supplementary injury and illness information, require employers to report fatality and multiple hospitalization incidents within a shorter time frame than Federal OSHA does (1904.39), require other types of incidents to be reported as they occur, require hearing loss to be recorded at a lower threshold level during CY 2002 (1904.10(c)), or impose other requirements.
Question 37-3. Are State and local government employers covered by this rule?
No, but they are covered under the equivalent State rule in States that operate OSHA-approved State Plans. State rules must cover these workplaces and require the recording and reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Question 37-4. How can I find out if my State has an OSHA-approved plan?
The following States have OSHA-approved plans: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming. Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have plans that cover State and local government employees only.
Calling in fatalities and multiple hospitalization incidents to OSHA
To read the regulation: 1904.39 Reporting fatalities and multiple hospitalization incidents to OSHA
Question 39-1. When a work-related heart attack occurs in the workplace and the employee dies one or more days later, how should the case be reported to OSHA?
The employer must orally report a work-related fatality by telephone or in person to the OSHA Area Office nearest to the site of the incident. The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of the employee’s death in cases where the death occurs within 30 days of the incident. The employer need not report a death occurring more than 30 days after a work-related incident.
Question 39-2. What is considered a “construction work zone” for purposes of section 1904.39(b)(3)?
A “construction work zone” for purposes of §1904.39(b)(3) is an area of a street or highway where construction activities are taking place and is typically marked by signs, channeling devices, barriers, pavement markings and/or work vehicles. The work zone extend from the first warning sign or rotating/strobe lights on a vehicle to the “END ROAD WORK” sign or the last temporary traffic control device.