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Employers may be required to keep records.
The OSH Act of 1970 requires the Secretary of Labor to produce regulations that require employers in certain industries to keep records of work-related occupational fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The records are used for several purposes.
- OSHA collected work-related data through the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI) to help direct its programs and measure its own performance. Inspectors also use the data during inspections to help direct their efforts to correct the hazards that are hurting workers.
- The records provide the base data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the Nation's primary source of occupational injury and illness data.
- The records are also used by employers and employees to implement safety and health programs at individual workplaces. Analysis of the data is a widely recognized method for discovering workplace safety and health problems and for tracking progress in solving those problems.
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Purpose of the Rule
The recordkeeping and reporting rule requires employers to record and report work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses. (Section 1904.0)
Although a specific work-related injury or illness may involve some or all of these factors, a record of an injury or illness entered on the OSHA recordkeeping forms only shows three things:
- that an injury or illness has occurred;
- that the employer has determined that the case is work-related; and
- that the case is non-minor, i.e., that it meets one or more of the OSHA injury and illness recording criteria.
It's important to know that recording or reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality does not mean:
- the employer or employee was at fault;
- an OSHA rule has been violated; or
- the employee is eligible for workers' compensation or other benefits. (Note to Section 1904.0)
Recording decision tree.
Criteria for Recording Injuries and Illnesses
Each employer is required to keep records of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses that:
- are work-related; and
- are new cases; and
- meet one or more of the following general recording criteria: (Section 1904.7)
- days away from work;
- restricted work or transfer to another job;
- medical treatment beyond first aid;
- loss of consciousness; or
- a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional
- or one or more of the following cases:
- work-related needlestick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with another person's blood or other potentially infectious material (Section 1904.8);
- if an employee is medically removed under the medical surveillance requirements of an OSHA standard (Section 1904.9);
- if an employee's hearing test (audiogram) reveals that the employee has experienced a work-related Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in hearing in one or both ears, and the employee's total hearing level is 25 decibels (dB) or more above audiometric zero (averaged at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz) in the same ear(s) as the STS (Section 1904.10); or
- if an employee has been occupationally exposed to anyone with a known case of active tuberculosis (TB), and that employee subsequently develops a tuberculosis infection, as evidenced by a positive skin test or diagnosis by a physician or other licensed health care professional (Section 1904.11).
Companies with less 10 or fewer employees may be exempt from keeping records.
Scope of the Rule
All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) are covered by CFR 29 1904, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness. However, most employers do not have to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) informs them in writing that they must keep records.
Ten or fewer employees. If your company had ten (10) or fewer employees at all times during the last calendar year, you do not need to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the BLS informs you in writing that you must keep records. (Section 1904.1)
More than ten employees. If your company had more than ten (10) employees at any time during the last calendar year, you must keep OSHA injury and illness records unless your establishment is classified as a partially exempt industry. (Section 1904.2)
Exception. All employers covered by the OSH Act must report to OSHA any workplace incident that results in a fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. (Section 1904.39)
The partial exemption for size is based on the number of employees in the entire company.
To determine if you are exempt because of size, you need to determine your company's peak employment during the last calendar year. If you had no more than 10 employees at any time in the last calendar year, your company qualifies for the partial exemption for size.
See OSHA's Partially Exempt Industries web page for a list of partially exempted industries.
How Records are Used
OSHA uses statistics to improve standards.
The Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) is used to classify work-related injuries and illnesses and to note the extent and severity of each case. Under this system, it is essential that data recorded by employers be uniform and accurate to assure the consistency and validity of the statistical data which is used by OSHA for many purposes, including:
- inspection targeting;
- performance measurement;
- standards development;
- resource allocation;
- Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) eligibility; and
- low-hazard industry exemptions.
Keeping Records for More Than One Agency
If you create records to comply with another government agency's injury and illness recordkeeping requirements, OSHA will consider those records as meeting OSHA's Part 1904 recordkeeping requirements if:
- OSHA accepts the other agency's records under a memorandum of understanding with that agency, or
- if the other agency's records contain the same information as this Part 1904 requires you to record. (Section 1904.3)
You may contact your nearest OSHA office or State agency for help in determining whether your records meet OSHA's requirements.
Injuries may be recordable and compensable.
Recordability and Compensability
Many cases that are recorded in the OSHA system are also compensable under the State workers' compensation system, but many others are not. However, the two systems have different purposes and scopes.
- OSHA. The OSHA recordkeeping system is intended to collect, compile and analyze uniform and consistent nationwide data on occupational injuries and illnesses.
- Workers' Compensation. The workers' compensation system, in contrast, is not designed primarily to generate and collect data but is intended primarily to provide medical coverage and compensation for workers who are killed, injured or made ill at work, and varies in coverage from one state to another.
Recording an injury or illness neither affects a person's entitlement to workers' compensation nor proves a violation of an OSHA rule. The rules for compensability under workers' compensation do not have any effect on whether or not a case needs to be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. Many cases will be OSHA recordable and compensable under workers' compensation. However, some cases will be compensable but not OSHA recordable, and some cases will be OSHA recordable but not compensable under workers' compensation.
The employer must analyze the case in light of both the OSHA recording criteria and the requirements of the State workers' compensation system to determine whether the case is recordable or compensable, or both.
Inform employees on how to report injuries and illnesses.
A basic requirement of the recordkeeping rule is to include employees. Your employees and their representatives must be involved in the recordkeeping system in several ways. The employer must:
- inform each employee of how he or she is to report a work-related injury or illness;
- provide employees with information regarding work-related injuries and illnesses;
- provide access to your injury and illness records for your employees and their representatives.
What must I do to make sure employees report work-related injuries and illnesses?
- establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately;
- inform each employee of your procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses;
- inform each employee that:
- employees have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses; and
- employers are prohibited from discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
Do I have to give my employees access to injury and illness records?
- Yes, employees, former employees, their personal representatives, and their authorized employee representatives have the right to access the OSHA injury and illness records, with some limitations, as discussed in the next section.
If an employee or representative asks for access to the OSHA 300 Log, when must I provide it?
When an employee, former employee, personal representative, or authorized employee representative asks for copies of your current or stored OSHA 300 Log(s) for an establishment the employee or former employee has worked in, you must give the requester a copy of the relevant OSHA 300 Log(s) by the end of the next business day.
May I remove the names of the employees or any other information?
- No, you must leave the names on the 300 Log. However, to protect the privacy of injured and ill employees, you may not record the employee's name on the OSHA 300 Log for certain "privacy concern cases," as specified in 1904.29(b)(6) through (9).
If an employee or representative asks for access to the OSHA 301 Incident Report, when do I have to provide it?
When an employee, former employee, or personal representative asks for a copy of the OSHA 301 Incident Report describing an injury or illness to that employee or former employee, you must give the requester a copy of the OSHA 301 Incident Report containing that information by the end of the next business day.
When an authorized employee representative that represents employees under a collective bargaining agreement, you must give copies of those the Form 301 to the authorized employee representative within 7 calendar days.
What information on the Form 301 must I provide?
You are only required to give the authorized employee representative information from the OSHA 301 section titled "Tell us about the case." You must remove all other information from the copy of the OSHA 301 or the equivalent substitute form that you give to the authorized employee representative.
May I charge for the copies?
- No, you may not charge for these copies the first time they are provided. However, if one of the designated persons asks for additional copies, you may assess a reasonable charge for retrieving and copying the records.