Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

January 2, 1998

George N. Perry, PE, CSP
Union Camp
Loss Prevention Department
34040 Union Camp Drive
Franklin, Virginia 23851-0178

Dear Mr. Perry:

Thank you for your letter of December 19 requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. Your question involves the definition of "work relationship" for occupational injuries and illnesses. The definition of work relationship used for OSHA recordkeeping is a very broad concept. It includes cases where an event or exposure at work either caused or contributed to the injury/illness or aggravated existing symptoms to the point that they meet the OSHA recording criteria.

The concept of work relationship is described on pages 32 through 37 of the enclosed Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. On page 32, the guidelines state "Work relationship is established under the OSHA recordkeeping system when the injury or illness results from an event or exposure in the work environment. The work environment is primarily composed of (1) the employers' premises, and (2) other locations where employees are engaged in work-related activities or are present as a condition of employment." Further, the guidelines state that "Generally, injuries and illnesses that result from an event or exposure on the employer's premises are considered work related". What this means is that injuries or illnesses that occur while the employees are at work are presumed to be work related.

There are a few exceptions/clarifications to the "on premises presumption", as follows:

1) The definition of the premises does not include recreational facilities such as company ballfields, gymnasiums, etc. (page 33 Question C-2)

2) The definition of the premises does not include company parking lots. (page 33 Question C-3)

3) The "on premises presumption" would not apply when the employee is on the employers' premises as a member of the general public and not as an employee. (page 34 Questions C-7, C-8, and C-9)

4) The "on premises presumption" would not apply when the worker experiences symptoms that merely surface on the employers premises, where the symptoms are the result of a non work-related event or exposure off premises. (page 34 Question C-8)

5) In various letters of interpretation, OSHA has determined that injuries and illnesses which solely result from the donation of blood during voluntary blood drives on the employers premises, or which solely result from the voluntary flu shot programs on the employers premises are not to be considered work related.

The cause of the accident is immaterial for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. For example, injuries resulting from horseplay (page 35 Question C-12) can result in recordable cases. The guidelines make no distinction between incidents that are compensable under State workers' compensation laws, incidents that are caused by worker negligence, incidents caused by employer neglect, incidents that are preventable, or the random incidents that seem to happen when no one is at fault.

The case you described, where an employee was electrocuted by a lightning strike while working inside a building at your manufacturing facility, is considered work related under the OSHA recordkeeping rules. Because the case resulted in days away from work, the case is recordable on your OSHA 200 Log as an injury with two days away from work.

I hope this information will answer your questions about the recordkeeping requirements. If you have further questions please contact my staff at (202) 219-6463.


Bob Whitmore
Division of Recordkeeping Requirements