Three new significant recordkeeping interpretations

By: Travis Rhoden

Publication: Workplace Safety Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 08/03/2021

New interpretations of the injury/illness recordkeeping standards

OSHA recently posted three new interpretations of the injury/illness recordkeeping standards. Two of the interpretations broaden the scope, while one may give employers a slight break in recording.

1. Work injury aggravated by non-work activity

An employee hurt his harm at work, was seen by a physician, and no medical treatment or restrictions were given. However, the following day, the worker took part in military training, which he said further aggravated the arm injury. He saw a physician again, who recommended restrictions. OSHA says the employee’s injury is likely recordable given that a work event was one “discernible cause” of the injury. The agency noted a work event need not be the sole or predominant cause of a work injury for it to be recordable. Work-relatedness is presumed for OSHA recordkeeping purposes if work makes “any” contribution to the resulting injury or illness.

2. Rescue inhaler use for sensitivity to fragrances

A worker’s non-work asthma was triggered by a co-worker’s fragrance. The worker had to use their personal rescue inhaler. OSHA says this is a recordable event because a condition in the workplace “significantly aggravated” the asthma, and the rescue inhaler is medical treatment beyond first-aid. Note: OSHA did say that employers would not have to record subsequent use of the inhaler as new injuries, rather they would be continuations of the original recordable.

3. Commuting to the first worksite of the day when on travel status

OSHA has long held that the commute to work each day is not work-related. However, this gets complicated when the worker is on travel status. For example, if a worker travels 200 miles from home for work and checks into a hotel, the worker has established a “home away from home” when checking into the hotel. The next day’s commute to a fixed jobsite would not be work-related, as it would be akin to the worker commuting from home to work.