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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.
March 14, 2003
Mr. Bill Borwegen
Occupational Health and Safety
Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC
1313 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear Mr. Borwegen:
Thank you for your October 11, 2002 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs regarding access to needlestick and contaminated sharps cases. Your question is restated below followed by OSHA's response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original response.
Question: Are employees and employee representatives granted access to the sharps injury log?
Response: Yes, employees and employee representatives are granted access to records of sharps injuries. OSHA's Recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR 1904.8(a), requires employers to record all work-related needlestick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with another person's blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Further clarification is provided in the "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" portion of OSHA Instruction CPL 2-0.131, Recordkeeping Policies and Procedures Manual.
An employer can choose to keep a separate sharps injury log to satisfy the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030 [Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens], in addition to recording injuries on the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. However, the case must still be recorded on the OSHA log as an injury and separable from other work-related injuries and illnesses [OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-131 [formerly CPL 2-0.131], Recordkeeping Policies and Procedures Manual].
To protect the employee's privacy, the employee's name must not be entered on the OSHA 300 Log; instead, the words "privacy case" are entered [29 CFR 1904.29(b)(6)]. The employer must keep a separate, confidential list of the case numbers and employee names. Subject to these restrictions employees, former employees, their personal representatives, and their authorized employee representatives have the right to access the OSHA 300 Log, including the records of sharps injuries [29 CFR 1904.35(b)(2)].
In addition, according to 29 CFR 1904.35(b)(2)(v)(B), when an authorized employee representative asks for copies of the OSHA 301 Incident Reports for an establishment where the agent represents the employees under a collective bargaining agreement, the establishment must give copies of those forms to that employee representative within seven calendar days. The information received by the employee representative must be limited to the incident report section, "Information about the case"; all other information must be removed.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs