OSHA Form 300A posting date approaching, plus new letters of interpretation and electronic recordkeeping requirements for 2017

Posting deadline: February 1, 2017

This month, all employers required to keep Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, should be reviewing the Log to verify that entries are complete and accurate and correcting any deficiencies. The annual summary of injuries and illnesses recorded on OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, must be posted where notices are customarily posted, no later than February 1, 2017, and kept in place until April 30. Even if there were no recordable incidents in 2016, companies required to maintain records still must post the summary with zeros on the total lines. Copies should be made available to any employee who might not see the summary (such as a remote employee who works from home).

Form 300A summarizes a business’s total number of fatalities, missed workdays, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of employees and the hours they worked for the year. Companies with multiple job sites should keep a separate log and summary for each location that’s expected to be operational for at least a year. A company executive, as defined by OSHA, must certify the summary.

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.

Electronic reporting requirements for 2017

Starting in 2017, certain employers must send their injury and illness data electronically to OSHA. Establishments with 250 or more employees must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and must submit information from all forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Establishments with between 20 and 249 employees in certain “high-risk industries” , must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and again by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2. (see the article, OSHA’s revised recordkeeping rule in effect: are you ready? for more details)

New letters of interpretation

Deciphering OSHA’s recordkeeping rules to determine if an employee’s injury or illness is recordable is challenging. Recordable injuries are work-related and serious. OSHA defines a serious injury as one that results in a fatality, loss of consciousness, days away from work, a restricted work schedule or job transfer, a significant injury or illness diagnosis by a health care provider, or requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Employers should not report incidents that require only basic first aid. OSHA’s recordkeeping page provides more detail.

Throughout the year, OSHA issues letters of interpretations. Here is a summary of the letters related to reporting issued in 2016:

September 2016

Scenario: Employee works with glass and was wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. While driving home from work, he began to feel something in his eye and it became irritated. That evening, he sought medical treatment for the eye irritation. The medical diagnosis stated that there was an abrasion to the employee’s eye with no foreign body present. The employee was unsure if his eye was irritated at work or not.

Response: Section 1904.5(a) provides that an injury or illness must be considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the injury or illness. Because the employee’s condition arose outside of the work environment and there was no discernable event or exposure that led to the condition, the presumption of work-relationship does not apply.

Scenario: A motor vehicle accident instigated by a drunk driver led to the death of two employees. Employer requests clarification on what constitutes a workplace event or exposure for accidents that occur on a public road or highway.

Response: Section 1904.5(b)(6) states 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.” Travel to and from a customer contact is specifically cited as an example of a work activity in the interest of the employer. The employees were traveling from your client’s location in New Mexico back to their base location in Texas. Because the accident resulted in the death of your employees during the work activity, the two cases must be recorded on your OSHA Log.

August 2016

Scenario: An employee was operating a powered industrial truck (a “walkie”). Her foot became jammed between the walkie and a pallet and her steel-toed shoe bent and cut the top of her toe. She received four stitches for the laceration. At the time of the incident, the employee was taking prescription medication for a non-work related condition, which had the potential to cause loss of awareness of her surroundings. You believe this meets the work-related exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(ii) where the injury or illness involves signs or symptoms that surface at work but result solely from a non-work event or exposure that occurs outside the work environment.

Response: This case meets OSHA’s definition of work-relationship. Because the case involved medical treatment beyond first aid it must be recorded on your OSHA Form 300. A case is presumed work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment is a discernible cause of the injury or illness or of a significant aggravation to a pre-existing condition. The work event or exposure need only be one of the discernable causes; it need not be the sole or predominant cause. For this exemption to apply, the resultant injury must be solely due to the employee’s non-work related condition.

April 2016

Scenario: A worker began to experience wrist pain after spending most of his workday at a computer. Arrangements were made for him to visit the occupational health clinic. Prior to going to the clinic, the employee purchased and used a rigid wrist brace. The doctor at the clinic stated that while the brace was not necessary, if the worker felt he was getting pain relief by using the brace, he should continue to wear it. Does this constitute medical treatment beyond first aid for recordkeeping purposes?

Response: Yes. OSHA’s regulation at Section 1904.7(b)(5)(ii)(F) provides that orthopedic devices with rigid stays or other systems designed to immobilize parts of the body are considered medical treatment beyond first aid for recordkeeping purposes. The treatment must be directed or recommended by the employer or a health care professional to be considered medical treatment beyond first aid.

March 2016

Scenario: An employee sustained an injury when his hand was caught between two objects. After receiving treatment for the injury, the employee was immediately given a post-accident drug test. The results of the drug test indicated the employee was intoxicated from alcohol. For purposes of this response, we presume the employee’s injury was caused by an event at work, and meets at least one of the general recording criteria in Section 1904.7. Does this injury meet the exemption in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi), given the worker was self-medicating with alcohol for his non-work related condition of alcoholism?

Response: No. OSHA’s regulation at Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi) states “You are not required to record injuries and illnesses if the injury or illness is solely the result of personal grooming, self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or is intentionally self-inflicted.” Under this exception, an employee’s negative reactions to a medication brought from home to treat a non-work-related condition would not be considered a work-related illness, even though it first manifested at work. In analyzing this question, we consulted with physicians from OSHA s Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing. The physicians concluded that the intake of alcohol does not treat the disorder of alcoholism. Instead, drinking alcohol is a manifestation of the disorder. Accordingly, the injury described in the scenario above does not meet the exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi) for self-medication.

More details and other letters of interpretation can be viewed here.

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