Welcome to our monthly column featuring CONN-OSHA experts answering some of the most commonly asked questions from CBIA member companies.
Most of the responses from Catherine Zinsser, a CONN-OSHA occupational safety training specialist, will be on recordkeeping since that's the focus of most questions she fields.
But if you'd like to ask her a question on another topic, please email CBIA's Phillip Montgomery.
He will treat all questions confidentially and never share any identifying company information with CONN-OSHA or anyone else.
Q: If fumes from a chemical used by my company cause a severe reaction in an employee with asthma to the point of hospitalization, is this recordable?
A: Yes, If the hospitalization resulted in treatment that would be considered "other-than-first-aid," or met an exception of the law on recordable injuries and illnesses.
The employer must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.
Work relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception to the law specifically applies.
Q: An employee claims the stress from the job has pushed her to the point of needing a few days off. In fact, she was so stressed her doctor committed her for an evaluation/hospitalization. In both instances, medical documentation supports their cases. Are they recordable or reportable?
A: Under OSHA's recordable injuries and illnesses law, mental illness will not be considered work-related unless the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional with appropriate training and experience—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner—stating that the employee has a mental illness that is "work-related."
In that case, it is recordable. However, if the employee was hospitalized "for diagnostic testing or observation only," it would not be reportable.
Q: I have a worker who does a lot of data entry and now has carpal tunnel syndrome, but she also plays a lot of tennis. Since the carpal could possibly be a result of tennis, should I still record?
A: OSHA's general recording criteria requires that an injury or illness is considered recordable if it results in: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, or medical treatment beyond first aid.
Again, work relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception can be found in the agency's recordable injuries and illnesses law.