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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

May 25, 1994

Mr. Ron Austin
Kemper Risk Management Services
10309 Salford Court
Glen Allen, Virginia 23060

Dear Mr. Austin:

Thank you for your facsimile dated May 17, requesting guidance on recording back injuries and cases involving carpal tunnel syndrome on the OSHA Log 200. Whenever possible, I will refer to the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by citing the appropriate page and Q&A numbers.

OSHA recordkeeping requirements and definitions differ from those established under various State workers' compensation laws. Workers' compensation determinations do not impact the recordability of cases under OSHA recordkeeping requirements (page 26). Conversely, OSHA recordkeeping determinations should not affect the employer obligations under State workers' compensation systems (page 45, section G ). Some cases may be covered by workers' compensation but are not recordable; other cases may be OSHA recordable but are not covered by workers' compensation. Cases should be evaluated solely on the basis of the OSHA requirements and definitions.

Work relationship is established under the OSHA recordkeeping system when an injury or illness results from an event or exposure in the work environment. The general rule is that all injuries and illnesses which result from events or exposures on the employer's premises are presumed to be work related. Furthermore, if it seems likely that an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the case, the case is considered work related. It is sufficient for an exposure to only be a contributing and/or aggravating factor to establish work relationship for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. (Q&A C-7 on page 34, Q&A B-17 on page 32, and Q&A E-6 on page 40)

The most comprehensive guidance for the recording of Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) on the OSHA 200 Log is found on pages 14 and 15 of the Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants (enclosed). The ergonomics guidelines state that a recordable CTD exists if there is at least one physical finding OR at least one subjective symptom combined with 1) medical treatment, 2) lost workdays (includes restricted work activity), or 3) transfer/rotation to another job. Examples of physical findings include positive diagnoses, positive Tinel's,

Phalen's, or Finkelstein's tests; or swelling, redness or deformity; or loss of motion. Subjective symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, aching, stiffness, or burning.

Therefore, a positive diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome which meets the work related criteria as outlined above must be recorded on the OSHA Log, whether it is determined to be compensable under the Workers' Compensation system or not.

Back cases should always be classified as injuries and are recordable if they meet the injury criteria (i.e. they involve 1) medical treatment beyond first aid, 2) restriction of work or motion, 3) transfer/rotation to another job or 4) loss of consciousness). This generalization was made to keep the recordkeeping determinations as simple and equitable as possible (page 38, Q&A D-4).

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions, please contact us at Area Code: (202) 219-6463.


Robert Whitmore
Division of Recordkeeping Requirements