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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 17, 1989
Mr. Michael S. McCauley
Quarles & Brady
411 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202-4497
Dear Mr. McCauley:
This is in response to your letter of March 28, addressed to former Assistant Secretary John A. Pendergrass, in which you requested the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) interpretation of whether your "hypothetical fact situation" injury constituted a restriction of work activity. You also stated that OSHA regulations provided little guidance in this matter and that the Bureau of Labor Statistics'(BLS) "Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses" (copy enclosed) did not precisely cover your situation.
We have reviewed the BLS Guidelines booklet, the instructions printed on the OSHA 200 log, your letter, and the additional information you provided to Mr. Dillard of my staff during an April 6 telephone discussion. It is OSHA's position that your described injury should be recorded on the OSHA 200 log as a restriction of work or motion. This view is based on the following pages and sections in the BLS booklet: page 43, 3; page 48, 2; page 49, B9; page 51, B20A; page 61, Definitions; and page 64 (IV), columns 5 and 12, section 3. Particular attention should be paid to the phrase "employee...is unable to perform all or any part of his or her normal assignment during all or any part of the working day or shift." This phrase is found in most of the excerpted sections of the booklet.
In your telephone conversation with Mr. Dillard, you stated that your injured employee now spends 100 percent of his time sitting, rather than the normal 33 percent, a situation you stated was due to an injury. This situation, in our opinion, is a restriction of work activity, and falls within the guidelines that were excerpted from the BLS Guidelines booklet.
Please feel free to contact Mr. Dillard (523-8041) if you have further questions.
Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance programs
March 28, 1989
Mr. John A. Pendergrass
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
Re: OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements
Dear Mr. Pendergrass:
We request OSHA to provide guidance on the appropriate interpretation of the phrase "restricted work activity" as used in the OSHA recordkeeping requirements and the OSHA 200 log. Our question pertains to when an employer should record a minor workplace injury to an employee as a day of "restricted work activity." The OSHA regulations provide little guidance on this matter, and the Bureau of Labor of Statistics Recordkeeping Guidelines do not precisely cover this situation.
Here is a hypothetical fact situation we would like you to address:
Assume that a company has employees assigned to two general job categories, Job Category A and Job Category B. Each of these two job categories consists of a number of different tasks or jobs, and individual employees are frequently and routinely shifted from one task to another within the same job category. These assignment changes occur solely within the same job category: an employee who works in a Job Category A job is never assigned to perform a task or job in Job Category B and vice versa. All employees working within the same job category earn the same wage.
The company accommodates employees who experience slight injuries on the job by permitting them to shift to other positions within their job category. For example, assume a Job Category A employee is currently performing a Category A job function which he would normally perform standing up. He suffers a slight ankle sprain on the job. There are several tasks in Job Category A that can be performed while sitting down. The injured employee occasionallY performs these tasks as part of his overall job functions. After the ankle injury, the employee asks his supervisor if he can continue to work at one of the tasks in Job Category A which can be performed sitting down. The supervisor grants the request. There is no change in wage for the employee, and the new task is not "make work." Rather, it is a task that the employee has in fact performed as part of his regular work duties.
Should the above-described injury be recorded as restricted work activity" on the OSHA 200 log? We understand that the National Safety council also has a workplace injury recording system, and that the NSC would not regard this type of injury as a lost workday injury.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this matter. please feel free to contact us if you need additional information. Because of the importance of this question to compliance under the OSHA rules, we will appreciate the Department's prompt attention to this matter.
QUARLES & BRADY
Michael S. McCauley
James T. Lucke