- 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 https://www.osha.gov.
January 25, 1999
Organization Resources Counselors, Inc.
1910 Sunderland Place NW
Washington DC 20036-1608
Dear Mr. White:
Thank you for your letter dated July 27, requesting a clarification of the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements as they apply to employer efforts to relieve minor musculoskeletal discomfort through job rotation or transfer.
As stated on page 14 of the Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants, a recordable CTD of the upper or lower extremities exists if there is at least one physical finding (positive Tinel's, Phalen's, or Finkelstein's test; or swelling, redness, or deformity; or loss of motion) OR at least one subjective symptom (pain, numbness, tingling, aching, stiffness, or burning) combined with 1) medical treatment (including self-administered treatment when made available to employees by their employer), 2) lost workdays (includes restricted work activity), or 3) transfer/rotation to another job.
The concept of restricted work activity and transfer/rotation to another job hinges upon the employee's ability to perform all of his or her normal job duties for all of the normal work shift. (See Q&A B-15, B-17, B-19, page 50 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses). If an employee is able to perform all normal work duties during all normal workdays (including the day of injury), then the case does not involve restriction of work or motion and would not meet the criteria for a recordable case. Thus, if an employee is transferred to another job (while he or she is fully able to perform all of his or her normal job duties for all of the normal work shift) as an effort to prevent the employee from reaching a stage where he or she truly cannot perform all of his or her duties, the case does not meet the recording criteria.
However, when a suspected occupational cumulative trauma disorder does involve job transfer or rotation, OSHA presumes that the transfer resulted from the employee's inability to perform all or any part of his or her normal job duties for all of the normal work shift. OSHA would expect the case to be recorded as an illness involving restricted work activity. Medical evidence that the employee was able to perform all of his or her normal job duties for all of the normal work shift must be presented to rebut this presumption. For example, an employer may rebut this presumption with a written medical opinion that the employee was fully able to perform all normal work duties during all normal workdays.
I hope you find this information useful. Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If you have any further questions or comments, please contact the Division of Recordkeeping Requirements, at Area Code: (202) 693-1702.
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