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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.
c/o BPAC Colombia, Bogota
BP Plaza 200
Post Office Box 4587
Houston, Texas 77210
Dear Ms. Tucker:
Thank you for your e-mail message dated May 26, 2000, requesting interpretations on several OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping issues. As you are aware, your operation in Colombia is outside the geographic scope for coverage under Section 4(a) of the OSHA 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 answer your questions as they would apply to companies under the jurisdiction of the OSH Act. I will also cite the Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by page and Q&A number whenever appropriate.
Question: We are registering 12 hours for site workers who sleep on-site, therefore if there is an accident when the worker is off-duty would it be counted?
Answer: When field employees at remote work locations live and sleep "on-site", the activities they perform during their off shift hours are generally considered not work related for OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping purposes. Therefore, injuries and illnesses that occur during the off-shift hours would not normally be recorded on the OSHA Log.
Question: What about accidents when they are taking a break away from the area of activity (e/g rest room or canteen etc.) but still during their 12 hour work shift?
Answer: Injuries and illnesses resulting from such accidents are considered work related. Q&A C-9 on page 34 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines states, "The following situations illustrate cases where there is sufficient connection between an off duty employee and the job to establish work relationship: 1. The employee is injured on the premises while going to or from a work shift; 2. The employee is injured on the premises while picking up a pay check during off-duty hours; and 3. An employee is injured on the premises during lunch or coffee breaks." As you can see from number three, injuries and illnesses which occur on premises during break times are considered work related.
Question: What happens if we do not hear about an accident for some time (e.g., minimum of 4 days, sometimes longer)? This makes the connection with work related activity difficult to manage and could actually worsen the injury to the point where days away from work are necessary.
Answer: An intervening time period between the date of injury or illness and the employer's learning of such injury or illness does not enter into the decision making process for recording a case on the OSHA Log. The decision of recordability must be made based on the facts of the situation. Regarding work relationship, the employer must establish if the work environment either caused or contributed to the employee's condition, or aggravated an employee's preexisting condition. If so, the case is work related. Furthermore, if the injury or illness occurred on the employer's premises, the condition is presumed to be work related. (Recordkeeping Guidelines, pages 32 through 37).
The fact that the employee's condition could have worsened during the intervening period is not relevant to the decision making process. You must evaluate the case based on the actual severity of the condition and the necessary medical care and time of recovery needed.
Question: Under a restricted work activity case, does it have to be the same activity that the worker normally does or can it be any alternative work which is meaningful/productive?
Answer: A restricted workday is when an employee cannot perform his or her normal job duties over a normal workshift. If an employee is only capable of performing other than normal job duties over part or all of his or her normal work shift, it is still considered as a day of restricted work activity.
Question: How do you classify incidents to contractors who visit the site for 1 day to carry out a very specific task, get injured as a result of them not following procedures and risk controls which they were involved in, then go off contract the next day?
Answer: This scenario raises two issues, 1) recording cases for contract workers and 2) fault. Regarding fault, Q&A B-1 on page 28 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines states, "Fault plays no role in the OSHA recordkeeping system." That fact that the worker did not follow proper procedures does not impact on the recordability of the case.
Regarding the recordability of injuries and illnesses experienced by contract workers, an employer who supervises a worker's day-to-day activities is responsible for recording his injuries and illnesses. If your establishment supervises not only the output, product, or result to be accomplished by the person's work, but also the details, means, methods, and processes by which the work objective is accomplished, than you must enter recordable injuries and illnesses experienced by that worker on your OSHA Log. There is no length of time that the worker must be present at your establishment to meet this criteria.
Question: Is any period of time acceptable in order to allow complete diagnosis and classification or does it become day away from work case 1 day after the accident?
Answer: Though I am unclear as to what issue this question pertains, I believe the scenarios presented on pages 50 and 51 of the Recordkeeping Guidelines may address your question. These scenarios illustrate the concept of an employee's ability to work and need to seek medical evaluation and treatment. Q&A B-19 on page 50 reads as follows: "Q. Should time away from the job for visits to a doctor on days following the day of injury be recorded as lost work time involving restricted work activity? A. Restricted work activity occurs when the employee, because of a job-related injury or illness, is physically or mentally unable to perform all or any part of his or her normal assignment during all or any part of the normal workday or shift. Since the emphasis is on the employee's ability to perform, time off to obtain medical attention is not considered to be restricted work activity. If an employee is able to perform all normal work duties during all normal workdays or shifts following the day of injury or onset of illness, then absence from work for visits to doctors' offices or clinics to receive medical attention should not be recorded as a lost workday case involving restricted work activity."
Question: An executive's bodyguard strained his thigh muscles after slipping over when opening a car door. He was not working as a bodyguard for the executive at the time but ferrying the executive's children to school. Is this case work related? Is it normal commuting?
Answer: This case appears to be work related and not part of a normal commute. Tasks that are directed by the executive and performed by the bodyguard should be considered work related. I am assuming that the executive directed the bodyguard to chauffeur the children. If this task is performed by the bodyguard strictly on a voluntary basis, and the bodyguard is not receiving any compensation for the task, then it may be considered not related to work. One's normal commute is a trip between a worker's residence and place of business. The bodyguard's trip to the children's school would not fit this definition.
I hope you find this information useful. In closing, I would like to reiterate that your operation in Colombia is outside the geographic scope for coverage under Section 4(a) of the OSHA Act of 1970 and is not subject to the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping regulation and its definitions. If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Recordkeeping Requirements at (202) 693-1886. Please also be aware that our staff is unable to make international calls.
Cheryle A. Greenaugh
Directorate of Information Technology