OSHA’s Recording and Reporting Rule: What You Need to Know

Osha Recordkeeping – Part 1

The requirement for private employers to record and report certain injuries and illnesses was one of the many cornerstones found in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

In the development of the OSHA Act Congress saw a need to have employers use a system to track injuries and illnesses. In doing so, employers would have a database that could be used to address any hazards in the workplace that have gone unattended.

Excerpt from the OSHA Act: Section 8 paragraph (c) (2)

“The Secretary, in cooperation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall prescribe regulations requiring employers to maintain accurate records of, and to make periodic reports on, work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses other than minor injuries requiring only first aid treatment and which do not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, or transfer to another job.”

Updated Version in 2001

On January 19, 2001, OSHA issued an updated version of the original standard in the Federal Register.

The final rule contains provisions mandating the recording of work-related injuries and illnesses that must be entered on the OSHA 300 (Log) and 301 (Incident Report) forms.

It sets out the recording requirements that employers are required to follow in recording cases.

The final rule also mandates that each employer who is required by OSHA to keep records must record each fatality, injury, or illness that is work-related, is a new case and not a continuation of an old case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria:

  • Death
  • Days Away from Work
  • Restricted Work Activity (commonly called “light duty”)
  • Transfer to another job (yes, this is recordable!)
  • Other recordable (like hearing loss or one stitch to the finger)

The updated standard contains a table that points employers and their recordkeepers to the various sections of the rule that determine which work-related injuries and illnesses are to be recorded.

These sections lay out the requirements for determining whether an injury or illness is work-related, if it is a new case, and if it meets one or more of the general recording criteria. In addition, the table contains a row addressing the application of these and additional criteria to specific kinds of cases (needlestick and sharps injury cases, tuberculosis cases, hearing loss cases, medical removal cases, and musculoskeletal disorder cases).

OSHA Reporting Decision Tree

The following is a decision tree, or flowchart, that shows the steps involved in determining whether a particular injury or illness case must be recorded on the OSHA forms.

Key Point

What are the OSHA reporting requirements the employer must comply with? This part of the OSHA rule was updated on September 18, 2014.

  • All employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
  • An in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss must be reported within 24 hours.

Be prepared to supply the following information when reporting: Business name; names of employees affected; location and time of the incident, brief description of the incident; contact person; and phone number.

So, when do the eight hours start? The OSHA requirement seems a little vague. Here is a recommendation. Use the death certificate as a legal time of death.

All employers should have a policy and procedure that outlines what to do if a fatality occurs in their organization. Using a death certificate as a legal time of death is a good point to add to the policy. Also, as an employer, you have 8 hours to report. Use this time to do your investigation, get all the details, and report 7.5 hours after the incident.

Do I have to report the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye if it resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway?

If a motor vehicle accident occurs in a construction work zone, you must report the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

If a motor vehicle accident occurred on a public street or highway but not in a construction work zone, you do not have to report the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye to OSHA. However, the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye must be recorded on your OSHA injury and illness records if you are required to keep such records.

Be aware that some cases that are not reportable may still be recordable.

For more information, go to this link: 1904.39 – Reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye as a result of work-related incidents to OSHA. | Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Key Point

Are there exceptions to the recording of a work-related injury or illness?

This becomes interesting. If a worker is hurt at work but the review of the injury or illness falls into one of the following exceptions, the employer does not have to record the incident.

Here they are:

You are not required to record injuries and illnesses if…

  • At the time of the injury or illness, the employee was present in the work environment as a member of the general public rather than as an employee.
    • Example: The worker is there to pick up their check and is not scheduled to work that shift.
  • The injury or illness involves signs or symptoms that surface at work but result solely from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurs outside the work environment.
    • Example: a heart attack at work due to a lifestyle issue.
  • The injury or illness results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness, or recreational activity such as blood donation, physical examination, flu shot, exercise class, racquetball, or baseball.
  • The injury or illness is solely the result of an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption (whether bought on the employer’s premises or brought in).
    • For example, if the employee is injured by choking on a sandwich while in the employer’s establishment, the case would not be considered work-related.
    • Note: If the employee is made ill by ingesting food contaminated by workplace contaminants (such as lead) or gets food poisoning from food supplied by the employer, the case would be considered work-related.
  • The injury or illness is solely the result of an employee doing personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the establishment outside of the employee’s assigned working hours.
  • The injury or illness is solely the result of personal grooming, self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or is intentionally self-inflicted.
    • For example: an employee gets mad at the potato chip vending machine and breaks the glass to get his bag of chips. The injury was a severe laceration to the hand and forearm, requiring sutures (stitches). And yes, it’s not recordable.
  • The injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident and occurs on a company parking lot or company access road while the employee is commuting to or from work.
    • Note: There are two commutes a day: from your home to your first business stop and from your last business stop to your home. Injuries and illnesses that happen during the commute are not recordable.
  • The illness is the common cold or flu (note: contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, hepatitis A, or plague are considered work-related if the employee is infected at work).
  • The illness is a mental illness. Mental illness will not be considered work-related unless the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional with appropriate training and experience (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, etc.) stating that the employee has a mental illness that is work-related.
    • Example: Your boss drove you crazy.

Stay tuned for more.

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