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Don't miss February 1st deadline for posting OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
plus Q & A regarding common recordkeeping mistakes

The time of the year that OSHA 300A forms must be posted is fast approaching. While there are exemptions, most employers must summarize the OSHA 300 Log information on the 300A summary form, and post no later than February 1, 2013.

Included in the log should be the total numbers of job-related injuries and illnesses from 2012 that were logged on the OSHA 300 form, as well as information on the number of workers and hours worked for the year. Even if there were no recordable incidents in 2012 companies required to post must still comply.

A company executive must certify the summary. In so doing, the executive is certifying they have reviewed the related records and that the posted summary is accurate, true and complete. OSHA describes this requirement as imposing "senior management accountability" for the integrity and accuracy of the data.

This information must then be posted for three months in a common area of the workplace, from February 1 to April 30. It should be in a location where it can't be altered, defaced or covered by other posted material. Copies should be made available to any employee who might not see the summary (such as a remote employee who works from home). Employers must keep the records for five years following the calendar year covered by them, and if the employer sells the business, he or she must transfer the records to the new owner. For a copy of the form visit

Employers with fewer than 11 employees in the entire company at all times during 2012 and business establishments in certain industry classifications are partially exempt from keeping OSHA injury and illness records. The partial industry classification exemption applies to individual business establishments. If a company has several business establishments engaged in different classes of business activities, some of the company's establishments may be required to keep records, while others may be exempt. All employers -- even those not covered by the recordkeeping requirements described above -- must report to OSHA any accident that results in one or more deaths or the hospitalization of three or more employees. This report must be made within eight hours of the accident.

Deciphering OSHA's recordkeeping rules to determine if an employee's injury or illness is recordable is challenging. It's always a good idea to review the OSHA recordable requirements with managers and supervisors. Here are also several questions that address common recordkeeping mistakes:

Q. Are Workers' Compensation injuries the same as OSHA recordable injuries?

A. No. The rules for compensability under Workers' Compensation differ from state to state and do not have any effect on whether or not a case needs to be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. While many Workers' Compensation cases will be OSHA recordable, some cases will be compensable but not OSHA recordable, and others will be OSHA recordable but not compensable.

An injury or illness meets OSHA's general recording criteria, if it results in any of the following:

  1. Death
  2. Days away from work
  3. Restricted work or transfer to another job
  4. Medical treatment beyond first aid (as defined by OSHA)
  5. Loss of consciousness

A case also meets the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not meet the five criteria above (e.g., cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum).

There are differences in how work-relatedness is determined. For OSHA, according to Section 1904.5(a) "[the employer] must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment...." It's important to note that the work event or exposure need only be one of the discernable causes of the injury or illness. It doesn't have to be the sole or predominant cause.

In contrast, to be eligible for Workers' Compensation, a claim generally must meet a three-prong test:

Q. It was noted that an injury incurred while an employee was voluntarily participating in a wellness program is NOT recordable. Are there other notable exceptions?

A. Yes, under Section 1904.5(b)(2), OSHA has enumerated the following exceptions:

Q. An employee was injured at work, received medical treatment and returned to work in a modified duty position under the employer's Return-to-Work program. There was no lost time. Is the injury recordable?

A. Yes, this must be recorded as a restricted work case. If the employee cannot do all of his or her routine job functions and work all of his or her normally assigned work shift, the injury is recordable. If the restrictions are vague, such as "light duty", it is the employer's responsibility to contact the treating physician and get the details of the work functions that cannot be performed. If one is a function the employee regularly performs at least once a week, an OSHA recordable case must be entered on the 300 log.

However, if an employee only experiences minor musculoskeletal discomfort and the doctor advices no restrictions and return to full duty, but the employer assigns a work restriction to that employee for the purpose of preventing a more serious condition from developing, the injury is not recordable.

Q. An employee injured his knee in a non-occupational accident, but later aggravated the injury at work. Is the injury recordable?

A. This is one of the most difficult recordkeeping assessments. The principal provision on aggravation in OSHA regulation, section 1904.5(b)(3), notes an aggravation is not recordable unless the current workplace injury "significantly" aggravated a preexisting non-occupational condition. Yet OSHA's clarification of "significantly" aggravated opens the door for misinterpretation.

One example of a recordable aggravation on the OSHA site is an employee who is 5'7" and weighs 385 pounds walking to the lunchroom during a workday when his left knee buckles and he falls down, resulting in "medical treatment" and days away from work. Assume the MRI results show significant, pre-existing degenerative conditions in the employee's left knee.

This is recordable because a preexisting injury or illness has been significantly aggravated when an event or exposure in the work environment results in any of the following that otherwise would not have occurred but for the occupational event or exposure;

Q. A temporary worker at a plant is injured. Is it the plant's responsibility or the placement agency's responsibility to record the injury?

A. It depends on the level of supervision. Section 1904.31 states that the employer must record injuries and illnesses that occur to workers not on its payroll if it supervises them on a day-to-day basis. Day-to-day supervision generally exists when the employer "supervises not only the output, product, or result to be accomplished by the person's work, but also the details, means, methods, and processes by which the work objective is accomplished."

Q. An employee experienced an injury or illness in the work environment before they had "clocked in" for the day. Is the case considered work- related even if that employee was not officially "on the clock" for pay purposes?

A. Yes. For purposes of OSHA recordkeeping, injuries and illnesses occurring in the work environment are considered work-related. Punching in and out with a time clock (or signing in and out) does not affect the outcome for determining work-relatedness. If the employee experienced a work-related injury or illness, and it meets one or more of the general recording criteria under section 1904.7, it must be entered on the employer's OSHA 300 log.

Q. Are injuries that occur in an employer's parking lot or outside premises recordable?

A. Generally, yes. Examples on the OSHA site include three scenarios:

  1. Employee arrived a half-early early for his/her shift and after parking the car in the company lot slipped on ice and suffered a back injury, missing several days of work.
  2. Employee who went outside for a "smoke break" slips on ice and suffers a back injury.
  3. Employee returns from a lunch break with two co-workers and after parking in the company lot placed his foot on the running board of his co-worker's truck, caught his heel on the running board and fell breaking his ankle.

All three cases are recordable. Work-related exposures include most of the employees' activities on the employers' premises as well as situations off premises where employees are engaged in job tasks or are there as a condition of employment. For recordkeeping purposes, company parking lots are part of the employer's premises.

One might argue that in scenarios two and three, the employee was doing personal tasks. However under Section 1904.5(b)(2)(v), for an injury or illness not to be work-related, it must meet both of these conditions: 1) be solely the result of the employee doing personal tasks (unrelated to their employment), and (2) occur outside of the employee's assigned working hours. Lunch and breaks are considered assigned working hours for injury and illness recordkeeping purposes and therefore, the cases are recordable.

Q. Does an employee report of an injury or illness establish the existence of the injury or illness for recordkeeping purposes?

A. While the answer is "no," it is important to give the worker's account as much weight as circumstances warrant, even when the injured worker is the only witness. Although OSHA delegates the decision-making as to work-relatedness to the employer, if it's wrong, the employer can be cited. If the employer is uncertain about whether an injury or illness has occurred, the employer may refer the employee to a physician or other health care professional for evaluation and may consider the health care professional's opinion in determining whether an injury or illness exists.

Q. If an employee who sustains a work-related injury requiring days away from work is terminated for drug use based on the results of a post-accident drug test, how is the case recorded? May the employer stop the day count upon termination of the employee for drug use under section 1904.7(b)(3) (viii)?

A. Under section 1904.7(b)(3)(viii), the employer may stop counting days away from work if an employee who is away from work because of an injury or illness leaves the company for some reason unrelated to the injury or illness, such as retirement or a plant closing. However, when the employer conducts a drug test based on the occurrence of an accident resulting in an injury at work and subsequently terminates the injured employee, the termination is related to the injury. Therefore, the employer must estimate the number of days that the employee would have been away from work due to the injury and enter that number on the 300 Log.

Q. Work-related injury conditions often change. What are the updating requirements?

A. During the five-year storage period, employers must update stored OSHA 300 Logs to include newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses and to show any changes that have occurred in the classification of previously recorded injuries and illnesses. Employers need to establish a system for keeping tabs on subsequent events, particularly when long-term injury leaves are involved when medical treatments may be given or drugs prescribed of which the employer is unaware.

Employers are not required to update the annual summary or OSHA 301 Incident Reports, but may do so.

For a detailed discussion of OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, refer to the OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook, at OSHA's website.