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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 https://www.osha.gov.
May 24, 2000
Lea J. De Francisci
Demaco Dependable by Design
4401 Fortune Place
Melbourne, FL 32904
Dear M. De Francisci:
Thank you for your letter of November 31, 1999.
I am glad that you find the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses helpful in explaining the OSHA Recordkeeping Regulations. Thank you for your recommendation that we include an example illustrating how to record the situation where an occupational illness is diagnosed after an employee has already lost workdays.
You inquire about whether employers should record such lost workdays when they occur prior to the diagnosis. The answer to this question is yes. As stated on Page 9, Column B, of the Recordkeeping Guidelines, "For occupational illnesses, enter date of initial diagnosis of illness, or, if absence from work occurred before diagnosis, enter the first day of absence attributable to the illness which was later diagnosed or detected. Cases do not necessarily fall consecutively by date, because injuries and illnesses are recorded as an employer learns that a case has occurred." This is also stated on the back of the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in the "Instructions for OSHA No. 200 - Column B."
Additionally, we note that the recordkeeping regulation provides for the recording of occupational injuries and illnesses which result in fatalities, lost workdays, transfer to another job or termination of employment, or loss of consciousness or restriction of work or motion. Also recordable are occupational injuries or illness which require medical treatment or an occupational illness which is diagnosed - even in the absence of fatalities or lost workdays. See 29 CFR 1904.12(c), which states:
"Recordable occupational injuries or illnesses are any occupational injuries or illnesses which result in: (1) Fatalities, regardless of the time between the injury and death, or the length of the illness; or (2) Lost workday cases, other than fatalities, that result in lost workdays; or (3) Nonfatal cases without lost workdays which result in transfer to another job or termination of employment, or require medical treatment (other than first aid) or involve: loss of consciousness or restriction of work or motion. This category also includes any diagnosed occupational illnesses which are reported to the employer but are not classified as fatalities or lost workday cases."
As you can see from 29 CFR 1904.12(c)(2), occupational injuries or illnesses that result in lost workdays are recordable on the OSHA log. Thus, in the scenario described in your letter where you assume that the illness is occupational, the case met the recording criteria contained in 1904.12(c)(2) when the employee missed several days of work in May due to the pain she was experiencing in her arms.
I hope you find this information helpful. 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