Not too long ago we hosted a webinar concerning OSHA regulations entitled “MIOSHA: How to Report and Record Occupational Illnesses and Injuries” with Phil Casto from HUB International. Below is the transcript, above is the webinar.
Today's focus will be on OSHA record-keeping to ensure that everybody's familiar with the OSHA recording-keeping requirements as well as whether or not it is that they are going to be required to keep records under the OSHA regulations. Now the OSHA regulation for Michigan is for the federal OSHA state program requirements—there are 26 states like this. So if you are in a state such as MI, or CA, or SC, or any of the 26 States that has a State OSHA program, this webinar is going to be applicable to your operations as it has the same type of material and same requirements.
Throughout the OSHA regulation, when we look at the record-keeping section, it's organized into seven different sub-parts. The sub-parts are broken down to make the regulations a little bit easier to read. In grand total, there's about 7 million different business establishments in the United States and of those 7 million about 1.4 million are required to keep records in accordance with the OSHA record-keeping regulations. So about 20% of all the workplaces in the U.S. are required to keep records.
There are some exceptions to the record-keeping requirements—there are some exceptions based on size, type of industry, and other things like that. But even if you are exempt from some of the record-keeping requirements (partially exempt they call it) no one is completely exempt. The parts that no one is completely exempt from are 1904.39,1094.41, and 1904.42. Those go into reporting fatalities and other injury and illness information.
The first exemption we are going to talk about is what we call the size exemption. If your company has 10 or fewer employees throughout the entire calendar year, you do not need to keep the injury or illness records. If you had 11 or more, then you are required to keep the records.
Different industries are going to be covered while others are partially exempt. If you're in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, utilities, or wholesale trade, all of those industries are covered and you are required to keep the OSHA records. Some, what they call "Low-Hazard Industries", are partially exempt from some of the record keeping requirements, so if you're in retail, sales, service, insurance, things like that, you generally don't need to comply with all of the record-keeping requirements.
What we are really going to dive into today is one of the seven subparts—subpart C. This is where we actually determine whether or not an injury or illness is what we consider to be an OSHA recordable injury or illness. Subpart C, the very first thing we need to look at is what the actual definition.
What is an injury or illness as defined by the OSHA regulations?
In 1904.46, we have the definition—it's an injury or illness that's going to be an abnormal condition or disorder. They give you some examples such as:
Illnesses can be acute, short-term illnesses or chronic, long-term illnesses as diagnosed by a physician or a licensed health-care professional.
The Five-Step Process
To determine whether or not we got what is considered one of these OSHA recordable injuries, we go through a five step process.
Our first question we've got to ask is “Did someone experience an injury or illness?” If the answer is yes, then we have to look and see is the injury or illness work-related. If there was an injury or illness and it was work-related, then we've got to determine if it’s a new injury or illness or a repeated or recurring injury or illness. If it is new, then we must identify whether the injury or illness meets the criteria to be recorded or not. If it meets all four of those questions with a yes, that's when we go ahead and record the injury or illness on our OSHA logs.
Example 1: A worker reports to the nurses' station with complaint of painful wrists. The nurse gives them 2 Advil and they return to the job. Is this a work-related injury or not?
Answer: I've got to answer my first question- did the employee experience an injury or an illness? There definitely was an injury; the injury is the painful wrists experienced. In this situation, we’d have to keep moving to determine whether or not it meets the other criteria for the other four questions.
Example 2: There is a chlorine gas leak at XYZ establishment and the two employees in the area are rushed to the hospital. They are told to stay home the next day. Do we have a work-related injury or illness or not? Do we stop here or keep going?
Answer: While you don't want to stop here, you need to first determine what exactly happened. Did we just have an exposure, or was there an actual medical treatment that followed up with that? In this situation, we don’t have enough information. Step one - was there an injury or an illness? Yes. Step 2, was the injury or illness what we consider a work-related injury or illness? Generally speaking, if somebody gets injured or becomes ill and it's resulting from an event or exposure with physical work environments, then we call that injury or illness work-related. It has to happen at work or is a part of your work we consider that to be work-related.
Our work environment is going to be not just the physical location where the facility is at, but it's also going to be other locations that you may be working at. Think about a construction company—they have several different work environments that they work at. Wherever you are performing your work at, that is where the work environment goes.
We also have a determination for work-related injuries involving a pre-existing injury or illness that
something at work aggravated, made more severe, or made re-occur. We generally consider that significant aggravation, and if something that you are doing at work significantly aggravates a previous or pre-existing injury or illness, we call that a work-related injury as well.
Work-Related Injury Exceptions
· When we talk about work-related injuries, anytime that you get hurt at work it's considered a work-related injury. Of course we have exceptions to the rule.
· Let’s say that I work at a grocery store, but I’m off work and shopping there and it’s not during my normal working hours; I'm there as a member of the general public.. If I were to get hurt at the grocery store I work at while shopping, the injury is not considered work-related.
· If I am at work and all of a sudden I have a symptom or an illness that's from a pre-existing condition but it's not work-related, then that's not going to be a work-related injury either.
· If I'm at work and I voluntarily participate in a blood drive or I'm on the work bowling league team and I get hurt bowling, that' s not work-related because that was a voluntary participation.
· If I am making a meal during work and while I’m consuming it I choke on it or cut myself with a knife while cutting up my lunch, that' s considered personal consumption and that' s not a work-related injury or illness.
· If I am performing a personal task at work and it's outside of the assigned working hours, like taking a shower because I go to the gym and then come to work, if I were to get hurt doing that, that would be an exception.
· If I'm in my motor vehicle headed to work and I get in a motor vehicle accident during the commute, that wouldn't be considered work-related either. This also applies to the work parking lot. If I'm in a motor vehicle accident in the work parking lot, that's considered part of my commute work even though I'm at the physical work location.
· If I'm at work and I have medication that I take and the medication has a bad reaction or something of that nature, and there's some type of an incident or an illness caused by that medication, that' s not work-related either because that's self-medicated.
· If you intentionally hurt yourself at work that's not considered a work related injury, though of course we hope that most people aren't doing that.
· If you get the common cold or flu at work that's not considered work-related illness.
· If you develop a mental illness, it's generally not considered work-related. If you can prove that work drove you crazy, then if the doctor says work drove you crazy, it would be. But generally, if you go crazy, it's not because of work.
These are our nine exceptions and these are really the only exceptions as far as if whether a case is considered work-related or not.
So what happens if I'm traveling-boss tells me "Hey Phil, go to the hardware store and pick up some medicine poles; we need those for the next project." While I'm traveling, so long as I’m traveling for work, if I'm injured during that time, that's considered work-related. If I'm traveling hardware store and all of a sudden on my way there my girlfriend calls me and asks me to stop at the house and let the dog out, at that time I’m now on a detour. I'm not stopping at the house to let the dog out for work, so it becomes a personal detour. If I were to get hurt during my personal detour, that’s not work-related.
Working From Home
A lot of people work from home these days. If you are working from home and you end up hurting yourself,
it's only going to be work-related if the injury is due to the work and not due to the home environment. What that means is that if I am working from home, and I'm loading my printer and I drop a ream of paper on my foot and it breaks my toe, that's work-related; that injury was from the work. If I'm at home and I go to answer the phone and I trip over my dog and I break my wrist because I fall, that's not work-related because I tripped over the dog and the dog was part of the home environment and was not related to my work.
Question: What if somebody gives blood at a voluntary employer sponsored blood drive and then passes out and loses consciousness?
Answer: A loss of consciousness is going to be recordable injury but this is going to be a “stop here” situation. The reason for that is that it was a voluntary participation in a wellness program. Wellness programs, recreational activities, or anything like that is going to be not work-related because it’s voluntary participation. Nobody had forced the employee to give blood and they didn't have to give blood as a condition of employment, that was voluntary.
Question: An employee said they sprained their ankle in the company parking lot on their way to work. Work-related, or not work-related?
Answer: If the employee hurt himself in the parking lot, we are going to go on, because it's work-related. They were at work for the purpose of work. The commuting example I gave earlier—commuting ends when you get out of your motor vehicle. As soon as you are on the property and not in your motor vehicle, you are no longer part of that specific exception; that exception only applies to motor vehicles.
Question: An employee slips and falls in the hallway and breaks their arm, but they are working on their daughter's science project, but it's on a Saturday, which is that employee's day off. Work-related or no?
Answer: This one is not going to be work-related. The reason is this is the exception- the injury or illness is solely the result of a personal task outside of the assigned working hours. That's not going to be a work-related injury.
This concludes part 1 of 3 for the webinar. Check back soon for the rest.