OSHA Injury Recordkeeping: Avoid Costly Mistakes

Did you know that more than half of OSHA inspections end up with violations of the OSHA Recordkeeping Standard? Most employers are filling out the required forms, but they’re not doing it correctly, which can result in fines. This is not unexpected, as the OSHA rules for classifying an injury and completing the forms can be confusing. There are some common mistakes made, and with a little attention to detail, one can avoid these errors.

First, we need to understand the difference between Recording and Reporting:

  1. We Record certain workplace injuries on the OSHA 300 forms when specific criteria is met.
  2. We must Report to OSHA, by phone or in person, specific events including: Death, hospitalization of 1 or more employees, any amputation, or loss of an eye.

A workplace injury must be Recorded (on the OSHA 300 forms) if it occurs in the work environment and results in one or more of the following: Death, Days away from work, Restricted work activity, Transfer to another job, Medical treatment beyond first aid, Loss of consciousness, or Significant injury or illness. There are some exceptions, including injuries resulting from taking medication, personal grooming, or during voluntary participation in a wellness program.

One question often asked is “What is the work environment?” Well, OSHA’s definition may not necessarily be what you and I think. OSHA says the work environment is primarily composed of: (1) The employer’s premises, and (2) other locations where employees are engaged in work-related activities or are present as a condition of their employment. OSHA considers most locations where an employee is doing “…activities in the interest of the employer” to be the work environment. Generally speaking, this can include working from home, traveling for business, and even injuries that happen in the company parking lot. There are exceptions and specific criteria that must be met. For example, injuries that occur during an employee’s commute are generally not considered work-related. Additionally, whether an employee is “on the clock” or not has no bearing on determining if an incident is work-related. That means, if an employee is injured during their break time, it could qualify as being work-related unless it meets one of the exceptions.
One of the common errors I have seen concerns recording the injury of a contractor employee. Under OSHA rules, it is the organization that supervises the contractor employee on a day-to-day basis that is responsible for recording the injury. This includes temporary workers that you supervise on a day-to-day basis.
Another common error occurs when completing the OSHA 300 Log. There are several columns on the Log that must be completed; some of these columns require the employer to enter a number or text, and some require the entry of an “X” or check mark. Mix these up and you can end up with a $5,000 fine. One mistake that happens often is not properly describing the injury on the OSHA 300 Log. This column on the Log requires that the employer enter 3 things: (1) a brief description of the injury, (2) what body part was affected, and (3) what directly caused the injury. A correct example would be “Fracture, Left leg, Fall from ladder”. An incorrect entry might look like this: “Broken arm”. The problem with this entry is that the body part was not identified, nor was the injury cause. When identifying the body part injured, the employer must be specific, including not only naming the body part but identifying right or left, etc., if there is more than one of said body parts.

Completing the OSHA 300 forms is something most employers are required to do, and it’s also something that many employers are not doing correctly, which can cost you. If you want to learn more about common mistakes made in OSHA Recordkeeping, my next live audio conference on “How To Avoid OSHA Recordkeeping Mistakes” is January 20, 2015.

Please visit http://www.theindustrycalendar.com/showWCDetails.asp?TCID=1014306&RID=1011610 to view this event description or to register.

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Filed under Safety Management Systems, Safety Regulations

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