Recordkeeping: Is THAT Recordable?

Better Safe Than Sorry

Safety data and metrics are invaluable performance indicators for employers. Recording and mapping the variety of incidents, events, and initiatives creates powerful insights for companies to leverage. But not all data is equal and not all records should be recorded and reported the same way.

There are specific sets of records that are more important for employers than others. These are the recordables that OSHA specifies need to be tracked and logged by employers operating within any of the industries OSHA deems as a “covered industry”. Some companies may feel that they can skirt around these requirements by either not recording the data points as outlined or fudging the numbers when the time comes. This is an ill-advised maneuver, though, as OSHA can request to verify records at any time and a failure to do so will result in severe penalties and fines. And as the old adage goes, “better safe than sorry.”

Which Recordables Are Most Important?

Keeping track of every possible data point related to safety and health will quickly overwhelm any employer. Which is why employers need to focus their efforts on the most relevant recordables to cover themselves and their employees.

The primary injury and illness recordables as determined by OSHA are:

  • Any work-related fatality.
  • Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job.
  • Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums.
  • There are also special recording criteria for work-related cases involving: needlesticks and sharps injuries; medical removal; hearing loss; and tuberculosis.

And the only criteria for severe injury reporting according to OSHA is:

  • Employers must report any worker fatality within 8 hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours.

Some of the definitions in the recordables above can also trip up employers. It’s important that companies familiarize themselves with how OSHA specifically defines certain terms when it comes to recordables. This is because these differing definitions will have a major impact on how and where some recordables are reported.

For instance, OSHA draws a hard line between “first aid” and “medical treatment”. The way OSHA defines first aid is very specific and a full list of criteria is available on their recordkeeping page. One such example that could potentially trip up employers while reporting is that removing a splinter or foreign material from areas of the body using simple means is considered “first aid”. But removing a splinter or foreign material from the eyes specifically is a “medical treatment”.

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