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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

February 6, 1998

John Wesley
Coors Brewing Company
Shenandoah Brewery
P.O. Box 25
Elkton, Virginia 22827

Dear John:

Thank you for your FAXes dated November 25, 1997 and December 1, 1997, requesting interpretations concerning three scenarios involving days away from work and restricted work activity. I will respond by restating each situation and then answering it. I will cite the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by page and Q&A number(s) whenever possible.

1) During regularly scheduled work shift on Sunday, employee fell off a 10 inch platform and suffered a minor sprain to her left ankle. Emergency Room doctor stated on the medical treatment request form that she was to take the rest of the day off and see the plant doctor to be cleared for "light duty" work the following day. Employee returned to work Monday, but on-site doctor was not scheduled to work until Thursday. Employee participated in a scheduled brainstorming meeting on cost-saving measures for the production line. After 5 1/2 hours, the team finished and she and two other employees were granted the rest of the day off. Employee was scheduled off for the next two days and returned to work on Thursday, at which time she visited the on-site doctor for light duty restrictions. Is this a lost workday case?

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.

Injuries and illnesses are not considered lost workday cases unless they affect the employee beyond the day of injury or onset of illness. When counting the number of days away from work or days of restricted work activity, do not include: (1) The initial day of injury or onset of illness, or (2) any days on which the employee would not have worked even though able to work (holidays, vacations, etc.) (Page 47, Section B).

In regards to the above scenario, Sunday is not counted as a day of restricted work activity or day away from work. Since the ER physician directed the employee to report for light duty on Monday and the employee worked part of the day, this is a day of restricted work activity. Tuesday and Wednesday were days on which the employee would not have worked anyway, so they are not counted as days away from work or days of restricted work activity. Thursday is a day of restricted work activity.

2) Employee goes to physician for work-related injury, i.e., bump and receives prescription medicine to take (as needed) for pain. No restrictions or medical treatment. Is this recordable?

The use of prescription drugs (except a single dose administered on the first visit for minor injury or discomfort) is considered medical treatment (Pp. 42-43, Medical Treatment). Once a prescription is written, it is considered medical treatment regardless of whether the prescription is filled or taken by the employee. This includes prescriptions written on a "take as needed" basis. The case is recordable.

3) Employee strains wrist muscle. Is given a support brace to limit motion. Employee and manager both agree (in writing) that employee can perform 100% of the essential functions of job. Is this recordable?

The use of casts, splints or orthopedic devices designed to immobilize a body part are considered medical treatment for OSHA recordkeeping purposes while wraps or non-constraining devices such as wristlets or elastic bandages are generally considered first aid treatment.

This case should be evaluated for restricted work based on the concept of "normal work activity" rather than the "essential functions" of the job.

I hope that you find this information useful. If you have any further questions, please contact us at Area Code (202) 219-6463.


Bob Whitmore
Division of Recordkeeping Requirements