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.

May 25, 2016

Mr. Darrell Hornback
ICWUC Health and Safety Department
329 Race Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Dear Mr. Hornback:

Thank you for your 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. Specifically, you requested an interpretation of OSHA's revised reporting requirements under Section 1904.39.

In your scenario, you state that an employee lost the tip of his finger in a workplace event. A physician classified the injury as an avulsion. You ask if this injury should have been reported to OSHA as an amputation.

Section 1904.39(b)(11) defines an amputation as follows:

How does OSHA define "amputation"? An amputation is the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part. Amputations include a part, such as a limb or appendage that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; amputations of body parts that have since been reattached. Amputations do not include avulsions, enucleations, deglovings, scalpings, severed ears, or broken or chipped teeth.

Note that avulsions are specifically excluded from the definition of amputation. OSHA provides further clarification on differentiating between amputations and avulsions in an FAQ at http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/faqs.html:

How do you differentiate between an amputation without bone and avulsions?
If and when there is a health care professional's diagnosis available, the employer should rely on that diagnosis. If the diagnosis is avulsion, the event does not need to be reported. If the diagnosis is amputation, the event must be reported. If there is no available diagnosis by a health care professional, the employer should rely on the definition and examples of amputation included in the regulatory text of section 1904.39. Examples of avulsion that do not need to be reported include deglovings, scalpings, fingernail and toenail avulsions, eyelid avulsions, tooth avulsions, and severed ears. Remember, employers are required to report amputations to OSHA when they learn that the reportable event occurred. The employer must report the event when he or she has information that the injury is a work-related amputation.

The case described in your scenario is not a reportable amputation because the injury was diagnosed as an avulsion by a physician. As stated in the FAQ above, if and when there is a health care professional's diagnosis available, the employer should rely on that diagnosis. If the diagnosis is avulsion, the event does not need to be reported.

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 responses to new information. To keep appraised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

Sincerely,

Amanda Edens, Director
Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management