- 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.
February 19, 1997
Dear [Name Withheld]:
Thank you for your letter dated January 15, requesting interpretations regarding several injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. Whenever possible, I will refer to the Recordkeeping Guidelines of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by stating the appropriate page and Q&A numbers.
Q1. Home health care employees may not always report to the "home office" prior to traveling to their first assignment at the start of the work shift. After the completion of the work at the first assignment, the employees may travel directly to the next assignment, report to the home office or even travel between assignments. When would a recordable injury be work related during these travel periods? How is this reconciled with a "normal commute" and employees in "travel status"?
A1. An employee's normal commute from home to office and return is not considered work related. Therefore, any injury or illness which occurs during this trip would not be recordable. The normal commute entails only one round trip per day. Injuries and illnesses resulting from other trips to and from work (e.g., to work overtime, etc.) would be considered work related. Furthermore, for employees who travel among several work sites during the day, travel from home to the first work site and from the last work site to home is considered the normal commute. After completion of the work at the first assignment, injuries sustained traveling to and from other work sites would be considered work related (page 36, Q&A C-19).
Employees in travel status must either be: (1) outside their normal area of operation, or (2) working off premises for more than a normal workday (such as staying overnight) (page 37, Q&A C-22). Employees off premises in non-travel status work within their normally scheduled hours and normal geographic area of operation. An interpretation of "normal geographic area" includes the town or city where the employee normally works and directly adjoining municipalities. Injuries or illnesses sustained during travel status are considered work related.
Q2. An employer has 15 total employees - 5 each at 3 different facilities. Does a separate log need to be maintained that is specific to each individual establishment or can the employer maintain one log for the entire company (assuming that all other requirements are satisfied regarding availability, access, updating, posting, etc.)?
A2. Employers are required to maintain a separate OSHA Log for each of its establishments. An establishment is defined as single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed.
Q3. When an employer in one of the current 5 high risk settings for tuberculosis has an employee with a positive skin test, it must normally be recorded. If during the 5 year maintenance period of the log the exposed employee progresses to active TB disease, then the employer updates the previous entry on the log. In this situation, what should be the description of the illness? If the description is updated to indicate that the employee now has TB, how is the affected employee's rights to privacy protected since his/her name is on the log and other employees have access to the log? How is this reconciled with recording "seroconversions" resulting from bloodborne pathogens exposures where the description on the log is recorded as "needle stick", for example?
A3. The description of the case should be updated to indicate that the case involves active tuberculosis disease. While OSHA is sensitive to the issue of personal privacy and the effect disclosure can have on employee reporting, the regulation requires employers to update the OSHA Log with the most current case information, including the description of the injury or illness. The only exception to this requirement is for cases involving bloodborne pathogens. The issue of one's personal privacy versus another worker's right to know will be addressed in the 29 CFR 1904 revision.
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