OSHA recordkeeping: Is it work-related?

OSHA offers the following examples as guidance on what to report on injury logs. (For more information go to: http://1.usa.gov/nFxelo)

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

No. In determining whether a case is recordable, the employer must first decide whether an injury or illness, as defined by the rule, has occurred. 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. [Note: If a physician or other licensed health care professional diagnoses a significant injury or illness within the meaning of §1904.7(b)(7) and the employer determines that the case is work-related, the case must be recorded.]

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?

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.

Is work-related stress recordable as a mental illness case?

Mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that have work-related stress as a contributing factor, are recordable if the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health care professional with appropriate training and experience (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, etc.) stating that the employee has a mental illness that is work-related, and the case meets one or more of the general recording criteria. See sections 1904.5(b)(2)(ix) and 1904.7.

If an employee's pre-existing medical condition causes an incident which results in a subsequent injury, is the case work-related? For example, if an employee suffers an epileptic seizure, falls, and breaks his arm, is the case covered by the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(ii)?

Neither the seizures nor the broken arm are recordable. Injuries and illnesses that result solely from non-work-related events or exposures are not recordable under the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(ii). Epileptic seizures are a symptom of a disease of non-occupational origin, and the fact that they occur at work does not make them work-related. Because epileptic seizures are not work-related, injuries resulting solely from the seizures, such as the broken arm in the case in question, are not recordable.

This question involves the following sequence of events: Employee A drives to work, parks her car in the company parking lot and is walking across the lot when she is struck by a car driven by employee B, who is commuting to work. Both employees are seriously injured in the accident. Is either case work-related?

Neither employee's injuries are recordable. While the employee parking lot is part of the work environment under section 1904.5, injuries occurring there are not work-related if they meet the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii). Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vii) excepts injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents occurring on the company parking lot while the employee is commuting to and from work. In the case in question, both employees' injuries resulted from a motor vehicle accident in the company parking lot while the employees were commuting. Accordingly, the exception applies.