Ask the Expert, Injuries and Illness

Ask the Expert: Do Incidents Need to be Reported Promptly to be Recorded?

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking whether an incident must be reported promptly to be included in the OSHA 300 log. See what the experts had to say.

Q: The 1904.5 recordkeeping standard does not appear to address alleged incidents that are not reported in a timely manner. For alleged incidents that are not reported to supervision/management and there is no proof that the incident actually occurred in the workplace, is it acceptable to exclude these cases from the OSHA 300 log for recordkeeping purposes even if some of employee’s job duties may involve risk factors that coincide with the alleged injury? Some of our locations have experienced problems with employees reporting incidents in a timely manner (weeks and even months). We have a policy that requires incident reporting within 24 hrs and provide training on the policy. Although these cases are generally channeled through workers’ comp for acceptance or denial of claims, I want to ensure we are handling correctly on the OSHA recordkeeping side.

If an employee reports a work-related injury, and the outcomes associated with that injury are sufficient to make it recordable (death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or diagnosis of a significant injury or illness by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional), it must be recorded on the the OSHA 300 log regardless of when the employee reports the injury.

Employers are free to have policies requiring employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and to impose reasonable consequences under those policies, as long as the policy is not overly rigid and allows for situations where an injury is not immediately apparent. OSHA recognizes that employers have a legitimate business interest in learning about employee injuries close in time to when they occur or become evident. Employers may require employees to report work-related injuries or illnesses as soon as practicable after they realize they have a work-related injury serious enough to report. An employer may impose reasonable consequences for employees who fail to report injuries promptly in accordance with company policy, as long as those consequences could not be considered retaliation against the employee who reported the injury. However, if the reported injury is work-related and results in a recordable outcome, it must be entered on the OSHA 300 log even if an employee has violated a company policy requiring prompt reporting.

If there is a question about whether an injury or illness is work-related, the advice of a physician or other licensed healthcare professional may be sought to assist in making this determination. Additionally, the determination of whether an injury is eligible for workers’ compensation is separate from its determination of recordability. Some injuries that are recordable are not compensable, and vice versa. Thus, the outcome of a workers’ compensation investigation into a claim is not necessarily determinative of whether the injury must be recorded on the OSHA 300 log. An entry that meets the recording criteria at 29 CFR 1904 Subpart C may not be deleted from the OSHA 300 log if a workers’ compensation insurer later determines that it is not compensable.

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