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.
Feburary 19, 1997
Mr. Steven P. Laundrie
Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor
Standards Technical Services Division
State House Station #45
Augusta, Maine 04333-0045
Dear Mr. Laundrie:
Thank you for your letter dated January 7, requesting an interpretation concerning restricted work activity. Whenever possible, I will refer to the Recordkeeping Guidelines of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by stating the appropriate page and Q&A numbers.
For OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, the concept of restricted work is based on three criteria as follows:
1. The employee was assigned to another job on a temporary basis, or
2. the employee worked at a permanent job less than full time, or
3. the employee worked at his or her permanently assigned job but could not perform all the duties normally connected with it. (page 48, section B2)
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. Whether or not the employee was scheduled to perform the duty which is restricted is not relevant in the decision making process. If the employee would be expected to perform the activity which is restricted on any single day during the year, the case must be recorded as one involving restricted work activity. If the employee is never expected to perform the activity which is restricted during any one day of the calendar year, than the case does not involve restricted work activity.
For OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, an occupational illness is defined as any abnormal condition or disorder which results from a non-instantaneous event or exposure within the work environment (page 37, section D). Subjective symptoms such as pain, tingling or soreness are considered abnormal conditions.
Regarding the scenario outlined in your letter, the restriction cannot be considered preventative because the employee has an existing work related illness (sore arm). The case must be recorded as one involving restricted work activity. Days of restricted work activity are counted for each day the employee is told not to operate machine #1, regardless of whether the machine is operating or not.
I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions, please call us at Area Code (202) 219-6463.
Division of Recordkeeping Requirements