Common OSHA Illness and Injury Recordkeeping Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

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Completing required forms correctly can prevent OSHA recordkeeping violations.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many requirements regarding recordkeeping for injuries and illnesses. The process can be intricate and confusing, and even employers with the best intentions and awareness of the details can make mistakes.

Completing required forms correctly the first time, however, can prevent OSHA recordkeeping violations and other common missteps.

Eastern Kentucky University’s bachelor degree in occupational health and safety underscores the importance of OSHA reporting requirements and positions graduates for success in various occupational health and safety career opportunities.

Common Mistakes Companies Make

Mistakes can come from good intentions. iReportSource lists five common OSHA recordkeeping issues:

Not understanding the definition of a recordable work restriction.

Employers don’t always understand work restrictions. OSHA rules state that restricted work occurs when a work-related illness or injury keeps an employee from performing one or more normal job functions or from working a full workday, or when a healthcare professional recommends that an employee not perform some routine tasks or not work a full day.

“Don’t make the mistake of believing an injury is not recordable as a work restriction if your injured employee is still doing useful work, even if that work is within their job description,” the article notes.

Not providing enough detail in the records.

All injuries have to be reported and recorded accurately, every time, and within OSHA’s timeframe of seven calendar days.

Employers must include as many specific details as possible in the report, including the exact nature of the incident and where it occurred, events leading up to and immediately following the incident and whether any equipment was involved.

The report should also include the type of medical treatment required. Because OSHA has a specific definition of first aid, the treatment method is a recordable incident on its own.

Not implementing a system to track days away from work and other events.

Employees should have access to a system to record and report illnesses and incidents or track a recorded event when it happens. The system should also be able to track medical visits and treatment plans.

Failing to keep OSHA 300 logs up to date for the five-year storage period.

The OSHA 300 log is the form employers must use to record all of the details related to injuries and illnesses in the workplace, including:

  • Death
  • Days away from work
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A serious injury or illness diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional

The log needs to be updated and maintained to include what iReportSource calls “newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses” as well as to document any changes in classifications of previously recorded incidents.

The log has to be maintained and certified annually, according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), and retained for five years after the end of the calendar year that the records cover. If OSHA asks, companies have four hours to produce the data.

Failing to align workers’ comp and OSHA recordkeeping.

“Yes, these are separate records,” iReportSource notes, “but information on workers’ comp records and OSHA records should at least coordinate and the information should be able to line up accordingly.”

If the two sources don’t show significant similarities, employers may have to explain to OSHA why they don’t.

Additional Tips for Compliance

Employers need to pay attention to a number of other factors to maintain compliance with OSHA regulations. Other items to keep in mind include:

Recording travel and work-at-home incidents.

“If your employee is on an airplane on a business trip out of town and injures his or her shoulder while lifting a bag into the overhead compartment, then it would be a recordable injury on your log,” according to FDRSafety.

“The worker would not have been on that airplane if he or she were not required by the employer to travel for business, so it is considered a work-related injury.”

Similarly, a worker might injure him- or herself carrying heavy file boxes that they were allowed to take home.

“If you allow an employee to work from their home, you may still have scenarios where an injury in their home environment may trigger an OSHA recordable injury: these scenarios are where the work itself causes an injury or the illness, NOT the home environment,” FDRSafety notes.

Counting all the days.

All calendar days count toward the total number of missed days, not just scheduled workdays, FDRSafety says.

Recording injuries to temporary employees.

The controlling employer has to include work-related injuries or illnesses to temporary, seasonal, part-time or migrant workers as well as full-time employees, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reports.

About Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety Program

Eastern Kentucky University’s online bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety program is designed to show students how to identify safety risks and potential areas of improvement in construction and manufacturing operations. This degree can help prepare graduates for a position as a safety coordinator or many other occupational health and safety careers.

Industry-experienced safety professionals guide students through occupational safety courses, covering modern trends in employee engagement and the establishment of a safety culture in the workplace. For more information, contact EKU today.

Recommended Reading:

Drugs, Alcohol, and Workplace Safety

Production Versus Safety in the Workplace

Occupational Safety in Natural Disasters


5 Common OSHA Recordkeeping Errors You Want to Avoid: iReportSource

Recordable work restriction: Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness

OSHA 300 logs: SHRM

Avoiding common OSHA recordkeeping mistakes: FDRSafety

7 Common recordkeeping mistakes: ISHN