OSHA standard interpretations accidents while traveling to work

OSHA issued the following standard interpretations recently:

Work-relatedness while on travel status

Question: An employee traveled out of town to attend a one-day meeting at the direction of his supervisor. The employee arrived in the town the evening before and stayed at a nearby company apartment. The employee planned to travel back home directly from the meeting. On the way to the meeting, the employee was injured in a car accident. The employee went to the emergency room and received medical treatment. Is this recordable?

Answer: No. The company apartment described meets OSHA’s definition of a “home away from home”, so long as the employee is not required to stay there as a condition of employment. When an employee has established a “home away from home” and is reporting to a fixed worksite, injuries or illnesses are not considered work-related if they occur while the employee is commuting between the temporary residence and the job location.

Question: Employees travel to their normal workplace, a remote production site in a mountainous region, in a company-provided bus from a nearby community. The company provides the transport free of charge to its employees. Use of the bus service is encouraged, but optional. If there is an accident and injuries incurred, are they recordable?

Answer: The mode of transportation is not determinative of OSHA’s definition of a “normal commute.” Under this scenario, the daily trips between the residence and work site are considered the employee’s normal commute, regardless of whether they are made by personal vehicle or company-provided vehicle. An accident occurring during the normal commute is not considered work-related.

The situation is different if the employer requires the employee to use the company-provided bus. A requirement to use the bus is a “condition of employment” (Section 1904.5(b)(1)), which makes the travel work-related.

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