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 https://www.osha.gov.

August 14, 1997

Bruce A. Lepore
Workplace Health and Safety Manager
East Bay Municipal Utility District
375 Eleventh Street, Mail Stop 704
Oakland, California 94607-4240

Dear Mr. Lepore:

This is in response to your letter of March 29 regarding the use of electronic recordkeeping of employee safety training records.

As you discussed with Helen Rogers of my staff, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no jurisdiction over state or local government employers, and it is the State of California (Cal-OSHA) that has occupational safety and health jurisdiction over the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

You state that you are considering placing a bar code on each employee's ID card so that when the employee enters or leaves the classroom the card will be scanned with a wand. Since the wand contains a microchip, it is programmable to show all required information (class time, date, location, instructor, curriculum, etc.) as well as the arrival and departure time for the student. The data will then be downloaded directly into your training data base.

Specifically, you ask: Must an employer keep "hard copies" of signed attendance sheets of each class taught to prove employee attendance, or is electronic recordkeeping allowed?

A search of all OSHA standards found that there is no standard that requires the employer to obtain the employee's signature. Instead, most OSHA standards concerning training require the employer and trainers to sign a certification record which includes the identity of the person(s) trained.

With regard to your bar code suggestion, if safeguards are taken to ensure that the ID card being scanned belongs to the employee being trained, there should be no problem accepting this method of documenting employee training. Cal-OSHA, however, may have somewhat different requirements; therefore, you should contact the following for information specific for California standards:

[California Department of Industrial Relations
455 Golden Gate Avenue - 10th Floor
San Francisco, California 94102
Telephone: (415) 703-5100
Fax: (415) 703-5135]

If you have any questions, please call [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850].


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 10/22/2004]