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: How do I decide if a case is work-related when the employee is working at home?
A: Section 1904.5(b)(7) states: Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office, will be considered work-related if the injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting.
For example, if an employee drops a box of work documents and injures their foot, the case is considered work-related. If an employee's fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical treatment, the injury is considered work-related.
If an employee is injured because they trip on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related. If an employee working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.
Q: A worker was walking down the office corridor, tripped and required medical treatment for a twisted ankle. There was nothing in the workplace that caused the fall (no tripping hazards, no slippery floor, no uneven surface, nothing or anyone on his way). Is this recordable?
A: OSHA's no-fault recordkeeping system requires recording work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in the work environment, regardless of the level of employer control or non-control involved.
A case is presumed work-related if, and only if, an event or exposure in the work environment is a discernable cause of the injury or illness.
The act of tripping is a clear event within the work environment that caused the injury, establishing work relatedness.
Q: An office employee is driving a company vehicle on their normal commute to the office. When hitting the brakes, the employee was struck by an unsecured object in the vehicle. If the employee requires medical treatment would this have to be recorded?
A: No. For OSHA recordkeeping purposes, an employee's normal commute from home to office and return would not be considered work-related.
Therefore, any injury or illness occurring during this trip would not be recordable. The fact that the vehicle was a company vehicle is not relevant to determining work relatedness.
For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).