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 an employer were to require, or just make available, the COVID-19 vaccine to employees and an employee were to get ill, causing absence or hospitalization, would OSHA recordkeeping standards apply? Would it matter if the vaccine was administered onsite or offsite, or during work hours, especially if it is not a company requirement?
A: There are exceptions to the final rules “presumption of work relatedness” for injuries and illnesses. The final rule contains eight exceptions to the work environment presumption.
They are intended to exclude from the recordkeeping system those injuries and illnesses that occur or manifest in the work environment, but have been identified by OSHA, based on its years of experience with recordkeeping, as cases that do not provide information useful to the identification of occupational injuries and illnesses and would thus tend to skew national injury and illness statistics.
The eight exceptions are the only exceptions to the presumption permitted by the final rule. One of these states that injuries and illnesses will not be considered work-related if they result solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program.
Q: Does OSHA have a time frame—written or unwritten—when it begins to question the validity of an employee’s claim that they were injured on the job? For example, the employee says, “I pulled a muscle last week and it's really beginning to bother me now.” But the employee had not previously given any indication of this injury. Therefore, the company has little or no basis to question or establish the injury. Can it at this point deny the injury was work related?
A: Timely reporting is not a criterion for deciding work relationship. 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, it is considered work related regardless of being reported several weeks later.
In addition, the employer must establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report work related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately.
A procedure is not reasonable if it would deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness.
Once the incident is reported it must be recorded on the log within seven calendar days.
For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).