- 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 http://www.osha.gov.
August 26, 2008
Mr. Neil H. Wasser
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC
230 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303-1557
Dear Mr. Wasser:
Thank you for your March 19, 2008 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the Recordkeeping regulation contained in 29 CFR Part 1904 – Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. In an effort to provide you with prompt and accurate responses, we developed and continue to refine a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), in addition to maintaining a log of Letters of Interpretation (LOIs) on the OSHA recordkeeping web site. This information is publicly available and can be immediately retrieved from OSHA's web site at http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/entryfaq.html.
Your letter requests guidance on several issues with the following scenarios and questions:
1. An employee who performs office clerical work injures her knee in a work-related accident. She has out-patient surgery one month after the knee injury and is released by her doctor with the only restriction being: "May work at home." The company sets up a computer and forwards her business phone to the employee's house so she can work while recovering from surgery. The employee works from home, but does not work the full 8 hours during the work day. The employee was able to perform all of her routine job functions from home during this time.
Answer 1: Section 1904.7(b)(1) provides that an employer must record a work-related injury or illness if it results in death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, or diagnoses of significant injury or illness by a physician or other licensed health care professional. Section 1904.7(b)(3) states that employers must record a work-related injury or illness that results in days away from work, and Section 1904.7(b)(4) provides that employers must record a work-related injury or illness that involves restricted work or job transfer. Section 1904.7(b)(4)(i) makes clear that "restricted work" occurs when the employer keeps the employee from performing one or more routine job functions of his or her job, or from working the full workday that he or she would otherwise have been scheduled to work.
Based on the information described in your letter and assuming that the employee does not work from home as part of her normal work schedule, the case should be recorded as days away from work. In your scenario, the employer has made the determination that the employee cannot work in the office, but allows her to work from home while she recovers from surgery. In other words, the employer has made a decision that the employee needs days away (from the office) in order to recover from a work-related injury.
However, the answer to your question would be different if the employee's normal work schedule includes one or more work days at home. For example, if the employee described in your letter is normally scheduled to work from home two days (8-hour work days) per week, you would count the days worked at home as restricted work because the employee did not work the full 8-hour work day. See Section 1904.7(b)(4)(i)(A). Under such a scenario, the other three days of the week the employee is scheduled to work in the office would be recorded as days away from work.
2. An employee arrives at work and parks his car in the company parking lot. As the employee is getting out of his car, he inadvertently slams the car door on his finger, and the injury requires "medical treatment."
Answer 2: In order for the exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii) to apply, the case must meet all three of the following conditions. First, the injury must occur when the employee is commuting to or from work, and not when the employee is traveling in the interest of the employer. Second, the injury must take place in the company parking lot or company access road (the work establishment). Finally, the injury must result from a motor vehicle accident. OSHA interprets the exemption in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii) narrowly to include only those "motor vehicle accidents" involving moving personally-owned vehicles; i.e., those involving an employee-owned car or truck which has not been parked. (See OSHA's Letter of Interpretation to Vaught – July 14, 2008 attached.)
The employee's injury did not result from a motor vehicle accident during his commute. Instead, the employee was injured when he slammed the car door on his finger. As a result, the case does not meet the exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii), and, therefore, is work-related. Because the employee received "medical treatment," the case meets the general recording criteria in Section 1904.7(b)(5) and must be recorded on the establishment's OSHA 300 Log.
3. An employee suffers a knee injury as a result of a work-related fall March 15. The employee is seen by a physician and is diagnosed with a contusion and treated with "first aid." On April 15, the employee retires from her job for reasons wholly unrelated to the injury. On June 15, the employee is continuing to have knee pain from the March 15 fall. The employee undergoes surgery (medical treatment) on July 15 to treat the March 15 work-related knee injury.
(a) Given that the employee's employment terminated April 15, and this termination was unrelated to the injury, does the March 15 case nevertheless become recordable based on the "medical treatment" that occurs on July 1?
(b) If so, should any days-away-from-work be recorded, and if so, how many such days.
(c) If day's away-from-work should be recorded, shouldn't there also be additional hours of work attributed to the facility so that the incidence rate calculation provided for in the OSHA Recordkeeping instructions will be accurate. That is, if days are recorded on the Log for events post termination, shouldn't hours for those same events also be considered when determining "Number of hours worked by all employees?"
Answer 3: The case should be recorded because it occurred while the worker was still employed. The case met the recording criteria in July when the injury required medical treatment. Work-related injuries and illnesses that meet the recording criteria are recordable throughout the five year record retention and updating period set forth in Section 1904.33. (See OSHA's FAQ 7-20 – http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/detailedfaq.html#1904.7.
Since the recording criteria in Section 1904.7 were met when the employee received "medical treatment," the case should be recorded on the OSHA Log in column J – "Other recordable cases." No lost work time resulted from this injury because the employee was already retired.
4. Assume that an employee who is on restricted work activity for a work-related injury is terminated as a result of that injury. The Recordkeeping Regulations, §1904.7(b)(3)(viii) provides that in such circumstances, "you must estimate the total number of days away or days of restriction/job transfer and enter the day count on the 300 Log."
Question 4: In calculating the "total hours worked by all employees" for purposes of completing the OSHA Form 300A Establishment Information, should additional hours be added to correspond to the number of restricted work activity days or days away from work that are estimated and added to the Log on the terminated employee's case? Failure to add additional hours that correspond to the estimated days would seem to artificially increase the rates and result in inflated rate totals.
Answer 4: No, additional hours should not be added to the total hours worked figure on OSHA Form 300A. Neither OSHA nor BLS calculates rates for day counts. Rates are calculated for the number of cases, while day count data are published by the median number of days away from work. The hours worked figure should reflect the actual number of exposure hours during which a recordable injury or illness could potentially occur.
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. In addition, 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.
Keith Goddard, Director
Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis