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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.
April 14, 1998
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC
Attorneys At Law
230 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1557
Dear Mr. Wasser:
Thank you for your letter dated March 23, 1998, requesting interpretations for several issues pertaining to the OSHA occupational injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. I will respond by restating each question and then answering it. I will cite the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by page and Q&A number(s) whenever possible.
Assume that Facility A manufactures signs. Across the alley in a separate building from Facility A is Facility B (owned by the same company) that develops designs for use by the sign manufacturing machines at Facility A. There is also a maintenance department at Facility B that services the design shop in Facility B, as well as the manufacturing machines located in Facility A. The work done by the design shop facility is performed exclusively for the manufacturing process at Facility A. The payroll for both Facility A and B is paid out of facility A. The design shop manager and maintenance manager at Facility B report to the plant superintendent at Facility A. Given these facts, should a single OSHA 200 Log be maintained for both facilities or should each facility have its own Log? Our analysis is that these are inter-related activities performed at a single site although in separate buildings, and that both facilities should be on the same Log.
A single OSHA 200 Log should be maintained for both facilities. 1904.4 requires employers to maintain the OSHA 200 Log at the establishment level. An establishment is defined as a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. While the regulations do not require that work sites be contiguous to comprise a single physical location, the sites should at least be in proximity to one another (page 19, Q&A A-1). Facilities "across the alley" from one another can be interpreted to be in proximity to each other.
Furthermore, while the regulations specify that distinctly separate activities performed at a single physical location shall each be treated as a separate establishment for recordkeeping purposes, this requirement does not apply to the scenario described above (section A, page 19). Facility B is an auxiliary establishment of Facility A as defined in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual and should not be classified as a distinctly separate activity from Facility A.
Assume further, that 10 blocks from facilities A and B is Facility C. Facility C is responsible for printing messages on the signs manufactured at Facility A. All work done by Facility C is for the signs manufactured at Facility A. There is regular exchange of employees between Facility A and Facility C as needed to balance the work flow between sign manufacturing and sign printing. The printing shop manager at Facility C reports to the Vice President of Manufacturing at Facility A, as does the plant superintendent at Facility A. Facility C handles the personnel function for all three facilities while payroll for all three facilities is handled out of Facility A. Given these facts, does the geographic separation between Facility C and the other two facilities warrant that Facility C have its own OSHA 200 Log or should it share a Log with one or both of the other facilities? Our analysis is that although these are inter-related activities, the fact that Facility C is physically separate from Facility A and B means that Facility C must maintain its own Log.
Facility C must maintain a separate OSHA 200 Log from that of Facilities A and B. Facility C is at a separate physical location and should be viewed as a separate establishment (page 19, Section A and Q&A A-1). Ten blocks is not considered "in proximity to" for injury and illness recordkeeping purposes.
Assume still further, that located within Facility C is a 15-person sales office that sells the signs manufactured by the Company. The sales office reports to a Vice President of Sales and Marketing located at Facility A. Does this sales office need to maintain its own Log or should it be included on the Log at Facility C?
The sales office should be included on the Log at Facility C. The sales office is an auxiliary establishment of the company as defined in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual and should not be classified as a distinctly separate activity from Facility C.
Assume that an employee with subjective symptoms of a CTD goes to a doctor and is given a splint to wear with the instruction that he/she should "use the splint as needed." No other medical treatment or restriction of any kind is issued and the doctor does not schedule a follow-up visit. The Company, consistent with earlier recordkeeping interpretive letters, records the case on the Log reasoning that the subjective symptoms followed by the issuance of the splint (medical treatment) render the case recordable as a 7(f) illness. Assume further that the employee wears the splint for a few weeks and then stops wearing the splint. Approximately 45 days later, the Company observes that the employee is wearing the splint again for a couple of days and then removes the splint. The employee has not been back to the doctor and is simply following the doctor's instruction to "use the splint as needed" and apparently feels that the splint is again needed. Must the Company record his case a second time under the 30-day rule? If so, does this mean that the Company must request the employee to notify his supervisor every time he elects to wear the splint so that the 30-day analysis can be performed? Again, assume that the employee does not make any subsequent visits to a medical care provider.
Given the above scenario, the employer need not record the case a second time on the OSHA Log. For OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, self administered treatment by an employee is considered medical treatment only when it is under the direction and made available by the employer or a health care professional (page 14, Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants). The employer correctly recorded the case on the Log when the employee was first given a splint to wear by the doctor with the instruction that he/she should "use the splint as needed." As an extension of the above scenario, if the employee is subsequently examined by the doctor and is given direction to resume using the splint, a new case must be entered on the OSHA 200 Log.
Assume that an employee feels pain in his wrist and rather than going to the doctor, the employee goes to a pharmacy and buys an over-the-counter splint for his wrist which the employee wears at work. Does the employee's decision to purchase and wear a splint at work, without any direction from a medical care provider, require that this case be recorded?
No. The case need not be recorded. For OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, self administered treatment by an employee is considered medical treatment only when it is under the direction and made available by the employer or a health care professional.
If an employee who is not engaged in any strenuous activity, or perhaps no activity at all, has a heart attack while at work and dies, and if the doctor does not know why the employee had a heart attack, is the case considered work-related and recordable?
If there is no indication that the work environment either caused, contributed to or aggravated a pre-existing condition, than the employer need not record the heart attack. When an injury or illness occurs on the employer's premises, work relationship is presumed. However, the presumption is rebuttable when symptoms merely surface on the employer's premises, where the symptoms are the result of a non-work related event or exposure off premises. Under the OSHA system, heart attacks are not necessarily recordable if they occur in the work environment, but rather they must result from an exposure in the work environment (page 41, Q&A E-13).
I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions or comments, please contact the Division of Recordkeeping Requirements, at Area Code: (202) 219-6463. Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.
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