Recordkeeping is a vital part of any business operation, especially when a workplace injury occurs. There are many misconceptions, mistakes, and misunderstandings related to how employers keep records and deal with the OSHA 300 log. If you know OSHA’s requirements for recordkeeping and take note of the possible mistakes, then you can avoid errors and keep accurate records for your company.
- Injured employees may have work restrictions, but they generally aren’t recorded properly. If someone gets injured on the job, and can’t do everything that would be expected in that job, the work restrictions need to be recorded in the OSHA 300 log—not just the injury. Just because employees can still do useful work doesn’t mean that the sustained injury isn’t recordable. You must record the injury if the employee required anything more than first aid treatment. OSHA has specific definitions regarding first aid treatment (which is NOT recorded on the OSHA 300 log) in relation to a recordable work-related injury. Here are some factors that I always consider in determining a recordable injury: Did the employee receive a prescription or injection from the treating physician? Was the employee placed on light/restricted duty? Did the employee fracture a bone or damage a tooth? Did the employee have an eye injury that required evasive treatment? All of these situations make the injury recordable. However, when in doubt, it is better to record the injury as recordable in the OSHA 300 log. Also, record the injury on the log within seven days from the date of injury.
- Another common error is not being able to record the light-duty days when the employees may work with restriction due to a workplace injury. Every employee should be able to perform every aspect of the job for which he or she was hired at ease. When a doctor orders an employee to be placed on light duty, this means that some of his or her job responsibilities can’t be performed, so recording the issue is necessary. Various information and resources are available about recording light-duty days in comparison to regular work activities. This also helps a company to develop light-duty activities which can help an employee get back to full-time work more quickly. Studies show that injured employees have a faster recovery process when they perform light-duty work. Employees still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits while working on light duty. This can supplement their income if hours are lost due to an injury.
- Report an injury, even if it isn’t reported to you right away. Sometimes, a worker doesn’t realize the extent of the injury until the next day or even later. That doesn’t mean that the injury isn’t recordable. Many company managers and owners diminish a worker’s credibility if he or she doesn’t report an injury right away, but that’s blatantly unfair to the worker. Some injuries can take a while to manifest the full extent, but that doesn’t make them less significant. Knowing these aspects is crucial so employees can prevent further injuries to other employees.
- Aggravation is Important… Of course, this only holds true when it comes to injuries that are aggravated by the job. If a worker has an injury that isn’t job-related, but that injury is aggravated by something he or she does on the job, it’s reportable. Don’t leave it out of your records just because the original injury didn’t take place on the job site. Instead, make sure to document the original injury and how the job aggravated it.
Clearly, there are a lot of things that should be recorded—but they are often overlooked. When in doubt, report everything. It’s much better to record information that may not have been needed than to leave something out and hope that it isn’t necessary (or that you won’t be caught for failing to record it). When injuries do occur, record them properly. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did—and so will your employees. Stay safe!