Maintaining records of work-related injuries and illnesses is critical. The reporting of these events does not mean the employer or employee is at fault or that a violation occurred. Rather, it is a tool to help employers and workers recognize workplace hazards so that protections can be implemented to reduce and eliminate hazards.
Our OSHA defense lawyers know that employers have been cited by OSHA for failing to record or incorrectly recording incidents. It is imperative that you assess your business to see if you are making some of the mistakes listed in this series. If you have not done so already, please read part one and be sure to read part three.
Mistake 2: Failing to Record an Event
Not every workplace incident warrants the completion of the OSHA 300 form. If an incident only requires first aid treatments such as using wound coverings, providing non-prescription medication, using hot or cold therapy, or eye patches, then you do not need to record the case. An extensive list of what is considered as first aid treatment can be found on the OSHA website. If the illness or injury results in a fatality, loss of consciousness, missed work days, restricted work activity, or a job transfer, it should be recorded. Additionally, if the event or exposure is considered significant (e.g., involves cancer or tuberculosis), meets additional criteria (i.e., diagnosed by a health care professional), or requires medical treatment beyond first aid, it needs to be recorded.
Mistake 3: Providing Generalized Descriptions
Like a contract, OSHA forms need to contain all the essential information about an incident. This includes the facts and the sequence of events. Being specific when describing the case gives a complete picture of the event which helps both employers and OSHA identify and correct hazards so that similar incidents can be prevented in the future. If an employee sustained an injury you should document the location of the injury and what caused the injury.
Mistake 4: Failing to Maintain Privacy
Some workplace incidents are considered privacy cases and require maintaining employee confidentiality. Cases that are considered private include but are not limited to an injury to an intimate body part, a mental illness, or cases such as HIV or hepatitis. When filling out an OSHA 300 Form, the employee’s name should be omitted. Keep the case number and the employee names on separate confidential lists.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.