1904 - Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1904.5(b)(3)

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov

September 12, 2016

Mr. Jeff McKinney
One Cochrane Dr.
Pennsboro, WV 26415

Dear Mr. McKinney:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding 29 CFR Part 1904 - Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. In your letter you request an interpretation from OSHA regarding the work-relatedness of an eye injury experienced by your employee.

Scenario:
Your employee works with glass and was wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. He stated that while driving home from work, he began to feel something in his eye and it became irritated. That evening, he sought medical treatment for the eye irritation. The medical diagnosis stated that there was an abrasion to the employee's eye with no foreign body present. The employee was unsure if his eye was irritated at work or not.

Response:
Section 1904.5(a) provides that an injury or illness must be considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies. A case is presumed work-related if, and only if, an event or exposure in the work environment is a discernible cause of the injury or illness or of a significant aggravation to a pre-existing condition. Because the employee's condition arose outside of the work environment and there was no discernable event or exposure that led to the condition, the presumption of work-relationship does not apply.

If it is not obvious whether the precipitating event occurred in the work environment or elsewhere, the employer is to evaluate the employee's work duties and environment and make a determination whether it is more likely than not that work events or exposures were a cause of the injury or illness or of a significant aggravation of a pre-existing condition (§29 CFR 1904.5(b)(3))

    1904.5(b)(3) How do I handle a case if it is not obvious whether the precipitating event or exposure occurred in the work environment or occurred away from work? In these situations, you must evaluate the employee's work duties and environment to decide whether or not one or more events or exposures in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.

The employer has the ultimate responsibility for making good-faith recordkeeping determinations regarding an injury and/or illness. Employers must decide if and how a particular case should be recorded and their decision must not be an arbitrary one.

We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in responses to new information. To keep appraised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

Sincerely,

 

Amanda Edens, Director
Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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