In this module, we'll take a look at Paragraph (5) of the rule to become more familiar with the concept of "work-relatedness" and how it applies to OSHA 300 Recordkeeping.
You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to:
You should presume work-relatedness for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies. We'll discuss these exceptions in the next section.
A case is presumed work-related if, and only if, an event or exposure in the work environment:
The work event or exposure need only be one of the discernible causes; it need not be the sole or predominant cause.
The work environment is the establishment and other locations where one or more employees work or are present as a condition of their employment.
The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of their work.
A pre-existing injury or illness is significantly aggravated when an event or exposure in the work environment results in any of the circumstances below.
To ensure that non-work-related cases are not entered on the Log, the rule requires employers to consider as non-work-related any injury or illness that "involves signs or symptoms that surface at work but result solely from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurs outside the work environment." (See Table here.)
Pre-existing conditions also include any injury or illness that the employee experienced while working for another employer.
An injury or illness occurring in the work environment that falls under one of the following exceptions is not work-related and therefore is not recordable. Do not record injuries and illnesses if the circumstances below occurred.
Work in the interest of the employer. Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities "in the interest of the employer." Examples of such activities include:
Home Away From Home. When a traveling employee checks into a hotel, motel, or into another temporary residence, for one or more days, he or she establishes a "home away from home." After he or she checks in, evaluate the employee's activities for their work-relatedness in the same manner as you evaluate the activities of a non-traveling employee. For example:
Taking a Detour. Injuries or illnesses are not considered work-related if they occur while the employee takes a detour for personal reasons from a reasonably direct route of travel. For example, the employee took a side trip for personal reasons.
OSHA has decided not to limit the recording of occupational injuries and illnesses to those cases that are preventable, fall within the employer's control, or are covered by the employer's safety and health program.
The issue is not whether the conditions could have, or should have, been prevented or whether they were controllable, but simply whether they are occupational, i.e., are related to work. This is true regardless of whether the employee is injured while on travel or while present at the employer's workplace.
An employee who is injured in an automobile accident or killed in an airline crash while traveling for the company has clearly experienced a work-related injury that is rightfully included in the OSHA injury and illness records and the Nation's occupational injury and illness statistics.
OSHA believes that employees who are engaged in management, sales, customer service and similar jobs must often entertain clients, and that doing so is a business activity that requires the employee to work at the direction of the employer while conducting such tasks. If the employee is injured or becomes ill while engaged in such work, the injury or illness is work-related and should be recorded if it meets one or more of the other criteria (death, medical treatment, etc.).
Gastroenteritis, for example, is one type of injury or illness that may occur in this situation, but employees are also injured in accidents while transporting clients to business-related events at the direction of the employer or by other events or exposures arising in the work environment.
On the other hand, not all injuries and illnesses sustained in the course of business-related entertainment are reportable. To be recordable, the entertainment activity must be one that the employee engages in at the direction of the employer. Business-related entertainment activities that are undertaken voluntarily by an employee in the exercise of his or her discretion are not covered by the rule.
For example, if an employee attending a professional conference at the direction of the employer goes out for an evening of entertainment with friends, some of whom happen to be clients or customers, any injury or illness resulting from the entertainment activities would not be recordable. In this case, the employee was socializing after work, not entertaining at the direction of the employer.
Similarly, the fact that an employee joins a private club or organization, perhaps to "network" or make business contacts, does not make any injury that occurs there work-related.
Note that the recordkeeping regulation does not apply to travel outside the United States because the OSH Act applies only to the confines of the United States (29 U.S.C. Section 652(4)) and not to foreign operations. Therefore, the OSHA recordkeeping regulation does not apply to non-U.S. operations, and injuries or illnesses that may occur to a worker traveling outside the United States need not be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log.
Injuries and illnesses occurring while the employee is working for pay or compensation at home should be treated like injuries and illnesses sustained by employees while traveling on business. The relevant question is whether or not the injury or illness is work-related, not whether there is some element of employer control. The mere recording of these injuries and illnesses as work-related cases does not place the employer in the role of ensuring the safety of the home environment.
OSHA has issued a compliance directive (CPL 2-0.125) that clarifies that OSHA will not conduct inspections of home offices and does not hold employers liable for employees' home offices. The compliance directive also notes that employers required by the recordkeeping rule to keep records will continue to be responsible for keeping such records, regardless of whether the injuries occur in the factory, in a home office, or elsewhere, as long as they are work-related, and meet the recordability criteria.
When an employee is working on company business in his or her home and reports an injury or illness to his or her employer, and the employee's work activities caused or contributed to the injury or illness, or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury, the case is considered work-related and must be further evaluated to determine whether it meets the recording criteria. If the injury or illness is related to non-work activities or to the general home environment, the case is not considered work-related. For example:
If an employee reports a condition but cannot say whether the symptoms first arose during work or during activities off work, the employer must evaluate the employee's work duties and environment to decide if one or more events or exposures in the work environment caused or contributed to the condition or significantly aggravated a preexisting condition. Below are examples of work-related and non-work-related incidents:
An injury or illness is a “new case” if it meets one of the following two conditions:
For occupational illnesses where the signs or symptoms may recur or continue in the absence of a workplace exposure, record the case only once. Examples include occupational cancer, asbestosis, byssinosis and silicosis.
You are not required to seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional. If you do seek such advice, you must follow their recommendation about whether the case is a new case or a recurrence.
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