- Standard Number:
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.
July 24, 1996
Lon S. McDaniel, Ph.D.
Manager of Occupational Safety Health
and Quality Department
DynCorp of Colorado, Inc.
Post Office Box 464 T130D
Golden, Colorado 80402-0464
Dear Mr. McDaniel:
Thank you for your letter dated July 9, requesting an interpretation regarding the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. Your letter was forwarded to my Office by the Directorate of Safety Standards. The Division of Recordkeeping Requirements is responsible for administering the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping system nationwide. Whenever possible, I will refer to the Recordkeeping Guidelines of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by stating the appropriate page and Q&A numbers. While the Recordkeeping Guidelines provide supplemental instructions for completing the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping forms (OSHA No. 200 and OSHA No. 101), further official interpretations of the injury and illness recordkeeping regulation are found in OSHA letters of interpretation (such as this letter). These letters are available on the OSHA CD-ROM, the OSHA Internet web site (www.osha.gov), or by requests to my office. The majority of your questions pertain to interpretations found in these letters.
Q1. Define "Normal job duties"
A1. Historically, the phrase, "employee's normal job duties" has been interpreted to include any tasks that the employee performs or may be expected to perform throughout the calendar year.
Q2. If a physician gives an employee a medical restriction/limitation which is not founded on any objective findings, is this recordable if the physician is not an occupational physician?
A2. When evaluating a case OSHA gives weight to an existing medical opinion. When a medical opinion does exist, OSHA considers that opinion to be authoritative. It is not critical that the medical professional be an occupational physician. It is our interpretation that if a doctor prescribes work restrictions, then the restrictions are clearly required, until such time that the doctor removes the restrictions. Therefore, if a physician prescribes a restriction that affects the employee's normal job duties, the case is to be recorded as a restricted workday case.
Q3. If an employee's "normal work duties" can be performed as scheduled even though a physician has given restrictions, is the case recordable?
A3. Historically, the phrase, "employee's normal job duties" has been interpreted to include any tasks that the employee performs or may be expected to perform throughout the calendar year. If the employee is never expected to perform the activity which is restricted by the physician during any one day of the calendar year, than the case does not involve restricted work activity. On the other hand, if the employee would be expected to perform the activity on any single day during the year, the case must be recorded as one involving restricted work activity.
Q4. If the physician can't find anything wrong with the employee but feels it is within the employee's best interest to give management a recommendation (i.e. a limitation on the employee) and management has a light duty program so they accept the limitation, but keep the employee within their job classification and job description doing required work, is this recordable?
A4. If no injury or illness exists, the case should not be recorded. Q&A B-6 on page 30 states "Entries on the log...should be made only when the exposure results in a recordable work injury or illness." What must be determined is whether the employee has developed an abnormal condition as a result of the exposure. Please keep in mind that medical verification is not required for recordability. The employer must make a good faith determination regarding the existence of an abnormal condition. If the employer doubts the validity of an employee's alleged injury or illness and there is no substantive or medical evidence supporting the allegation, the employer need not record the case (Q&A B-18, page 32). Furthermore, Q&A B-9 on page 30 addresses the situation of receiving preventative care when not injured or ill.
Q5. In your opinion, which is more practical for the determination of recordablility "a calendar year" or "normal work day or shift"?
A5. When determining restricted work activity for OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, "employee's normal job duties" includes any tasks that the employee performs or may be expected to perform throughout the calendar year. OSHA is in the process of revising its injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. As can be seen on page 4059 of the enclosed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we are proposing to redefine restricted work activity as follows: "Restricted work activity" means the employee is not capable of performing at full capacity for a full shift: (1) The task he or she was engaged in at the time of injury or onset of illness (the task includes all facets of the assignment the employee was performing); OR (2) His or her daily work activity (daily work activity includes all assignments the employee was expected to perform on the day of injury or onset of illness). The public comment period for the NPRM closed on July 1, 1996. We have received over 400 sets of comments and are currently evaluating those comments in preparation for the development of a final rule.
Q6. If we have an employee who states that they have been injured and our physicians give them restrictions, but the employee is capable and does complete their normal work activities, is this considered recordable?
A6. When evaluating a case OSHA gives weight to an existing medical opinion. When a medical opinion does exist, OSHA considers that opinion to be authoritative. If there are conflicting medical opinions, an employer is to use good-faith in deciding which opinion is more valid. It is our interpretation that if a doctor prescribes work restrictions, then the restrictions are clearly required, until such time that the doctor removes the restrictions. Therefore, if a physician prescribes a restriction that affects the employee's normal job duties, the case is to be recorded as a restricted workday case.
Q7. Please direct us within the OSHA regulations where "normal work activities that reference during a calendar year" regarding normal work duties and work restrictions are located.
A7. OSHA's interpretation of "normal job duties" is found in the following letters of interpretation (enclosed):
* Letter to Baxter Healthcare Corporation 02/12/96 * Letter to Johnson Controls 07/07/95 * Letter to Pacific Supply 02/23/95 * Letter to Champion International Corp. 02/11/94 * Letter to OSHA 01/06/94 * Letter to Hallmark Cards, Inc. 10/28/93 * Letter to Abbott Laboratories 06/14/93 * Letter to Constangy, Brooks and Smith 07/02/92 * Letter to Brown and Root, Inc. 04/24/92
I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions, please contact us at Area Code: (202)219-6463.
Division of Recordkeeping Requirements