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.
January 27, 1995
Trudy Hadcock, RN
Nurse Manager Martin Marietta
525 French Road, MD 100
Utica, New York 13502-5993
Dear Ms. Hadcock:
Thank you for your letter dated November 4, requesting guidance for properly recording several injury and illness cases on the OSHA 200 Log. I will address the questions in the order they were presented. Whenever possible, I will reference the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by stating the appropriate page and Q&A numbers.
1) If an employer is absolutely certain that a case is not work related, it should not be entered on the OSHA Log. However, if the employer has any doubt about the case, it should be entered on the Log and lined out later if it turns out that, in fact, the case is not work related. When evaluating this case, please keep in mind the following two factors: A) People handle stress situations with varying degrees of reaction. For some individuals, information concerning a plant closing can likely lead to an abnormal health condition. B) when evaluating a case, OSHA gives weight to an existing medical opinion. If the employer decides against the medical opinion, the employer should document his or her reasons for doing so.
2) If the employer and the employer's physician feel absolutely certain that the employee is able to perform restricted work activity, the lost workdays should be counted as days of restricted work activity (not as days away from work) from the date it is determined the employee is able to perform restricted work and that work is made available (August 8). The lost workdays prior to August 8 must be counted as days away from work (page 26, B-2). If, however, the employer has any doubt as to the employee's ability to perform the restricted work activity, the days should be counted as days away from work. This case should be well documented using your doctor's opinion as to why the days are being counted as days of restricted work activity and not as days away from work.
3) For OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, the final determination that an employee is totally disabled is made by the employer. In the scenario described in your letter, it seems reasonable to use the date the doctor considered the employee's return "undeterminable".
4) Since the doctor had released the employee for work on a restriction, and the employee was scheduled to work, but the employee chose not to work, the day in question should be counted as a day of restricted work activity. Neither of the alternative choices (counting the day as a day away from work or not counting the day at all) would accurately reflect the employee's ability to work (page 50, B-15).
I hope you find this information useful. We appreciate your efforts to maintain the OSHA injury and illness records accurately. If you have any further questions, please contact us at Area Code (202) 219-6463.
Chief Division of Recordkeeping Requirements