Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

September 15, 1992

Mr. Bradford Brown
Planning & Research Associate
II Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Standards
State House Station #45
Augusta, Maine 04333-0045

Dear Brad:

Thank you for your letter dated August 12 requesting written interpretations pertaining to the recordkeeping issues you discussed with Bob Whitmore of my staff. I will restate each question and then address it. Where applicable, I will cite the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by stating the page and Q & A numbers.

Q1. One company thought they had to record each 10 dB shift in hearing on the OSHA Log. Upon finding out that it is currently 25 dB rather than 10 dB, they want to know what should they do with cases where a 10 dB shift, but not a 25 dB shift, has occurred and has been recorded. Is the baseline the previous baseline or the new baseline as a result of the 10 dB shift? Should they line out cases and not record them until the 25 dB shift occurs?

A1. If a company chooses to record 10 dB shifts on the OSHA Log, that company will be in complete compliance with the injury and illness recordkeeping requirements and enforcement policy. OSHA does not want to discourage the company from continuing the practice of recording 10 dB shifts. The company does not have to line out previously recorded 10 dB shifts, and may continue to record such shifts.

Each time a case is recorded on the OSHA Log, the audiogram used to determine the shift should then become the baseline audiogram to measure future shifts for OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes. If the company chooses to record 25 dB shifts, it should use the employee's original baseline as a reference point for measuring that employee's first recordable shift. If the company has already recorded a 10 dB shift and chooses not to line it out, the audiogram used to measure the recordable shift should be used as the baseline for measuring future shifts, be they 10 or 25 dB shifts.

Q2. Page 10 in the Brief Guide and page 42 in the Blue Book state that the distinction between medical treatment and first aid depends not only on the treatment provided but also on the severity of the injury being treated. It suggests that the following injuries should be recorded in column 6, for cases not involving lost time, restricted time, or loss of consciousness: a) they must be treated only by a physician or licensed medical personnel; b) they impair bodily function; c) they result in damage to the physical structure of a non-superficial nature; and d) they involve complications requiring follow-up medical treatment. A few instances came up which need interpretation to help shed light on how to record injury cases that involve no lost time, restricted time, or loss of consciousness. They are listed below:

* Wouldn't a single dose of prescription medication, under first aid treatment, have to be issued by a physician making it recordable?

Answer: The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 specifically states that records should be maintained for work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses other than minor injuries which do not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, or lost work time. The distinction between minor and non-minor injuries is made on page 42 of the Guidelines as discussed in your question. When a specific treatment (such as use of prescription drugs) is addressed, that treatment, in the context it is written, supersedes other less specific references to which it could apply. In the example you cite above, it should be evaluated using the first aid definition, one dose of prescription medicine for minor pain or discomfort is first aid.

* A secretary sprains her ankle and is told to ice and elevate it and is sent back to her desk. She is able to do all of her duties. Is this considered impaired bodily function and recorded, because she does not have normal use of her limbs?

Answer: No. As found on page 43 of the Guidelines, the case would be recordable only if it involves restriction of work motion; that is, if the motion that was limited affected the employee's ability to perform her normal job duties.

* A worker hurts his foot and is sent home before the end of his shift to ice and elevate it. He returns the next shift and does all his normal duties. Is this considered impaired bodily function and recorded, because he did not have normal use of his limbs?

Answer: See previous question. (This case would be recordable as a non-lost work-time case because of restricted work activity. See page 52, Q & A C-2)

Question 3 provided comment on the 30 day rule proposed in the recordkeeping revisions. We will take this comment into account and look forward to your further comments on the entire package when it is published as a proposal in the Federal Register.

Q4. If an employee comes into the medical department and helps themselves to antiseptics or they do something else for themselves (e.g. soaking, applying compresses) on the second visit, is this recordable? How should the term "to medical personnel" be viewed?

A4. The term "to medical personnel" should be interpreted as under the direction of a qualified health care professional at the medical facility (on or off premises). If an employee administers the treatment to him or herself at the medical facility on premises, it should be considered medical; treatment. As found on page 14 of the Ergonomic Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants, if such treatment is self-administered when made available to employees by their employer, the care should then be considered medical treatment. If they self-administer the treatment at home, it should not be considered medical treatment. Please be aware that second application of antiseptics is considered medical treatment only when prescription antiseptics are used.

Your final question asked whether OSHA had any plans to pay postage for distribution of recordkeeping materials. Since joining OSHA last year, this issue has been raised within the Agency. There are no plans for such payment in the Federal States at this time. If you cannot continue to distribute the materials because of the postage costs, please forward any requests for materials to:

                          Shirley Boulware
                         U.S DOL, 1st Floor
                           Portland Street
                         Boston, Mass. 02114

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions, please call Bob at 202-523-1463.


Stephen A. Newell
Acting Director
Office of Statistics