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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

December 16, 1999

Beata Barnett
HSE Reporting Analyst
Shell Chemicals Canada Ltd.
P.O. Box 4280, Station C
Calgary, AB T2T 5Z5

Dear Ms. Barnett:

Thank you for your letter dated June 23, 1999 requesting clarification concerning conflicting medical opinions with regard to restricted duties. As you are aware, your operation in Canada is outside the geographic scope for coverage under Section 4(a) of the OSH Act of 1970. However, as you are also aware, by using the same criteria worldwide, you will be able to make valid comparisons of the safety records of all your establishments. I will paraphrase the relevant part of your incident description and cite the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by page and Q&A number(s) whenever possible in our response. We will assume that for OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes, the contract construction workers discussed in your letter are subject to your day-to-day supervision and therefore, if subject to OSHA coverage, you would enter recordable injuries and illnesses of these workers onto your OSHA 200 Log (P 24, Q&A 1 and 2).

Scenario: At our construction site a contractor sustained leg injuries. He was taken to a hospital for x-rays and a short cast was put on his leg. The attending physician suggested working on restricted time. On the other hand, his family physician advised him not to go back to work. Should this be a lost time with restricted days or lost time without days lost from work?

As indicated in Section B on Page 47 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines, 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.). Remember, too, that, as stated in Q&A B-15 on Page 50 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines, "The concept of lost worktime focuses on the employees ability to perform all of his or her normal duties for all of the normal work shift. Therefore, employers need not record lost workdays when an injured employee is able to resume work, but simply refuses to do so." Ultimately, it is the employer's responsibility for making good-faith recordkeeping determinations (Recordkeeping Guidelines Page 32, Q&A B-18).

In the case you describe, you, the employer, may decide, within reason, that one physician is more credible than another and determine recordability accordingly (See Letter of Interpretation dated 01/28/88, Q&A 5). If you chose to side with the attending physician and placed the employee on restricted duty while the employee, following his family physician's advice, actually missed work, you may count the missed days of work as days of restricted work rather than days away from work (Recordkeeping Guidelines Page 51, Q&A B-20).

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any further questions or comments, please contact the Division of Recordkeeping Requirements at 202-693-1702.



Cheryle A. Greenaugh
Director, Directorate of Information Technology