CONN-OSHA Answers Your Safety Questions: July 2022
Welcome to our monthly column featuring CONN-OSHA experts answering some of the most commonly asked safety 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 is 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: As part of their normal workday, an employee commutes in his personally-owned vehicle from home to the workplace and back.
Later that same day, there is an emergency at the workplace, and the employee’s supervisor calls him to return to work to assist with resolving the emergency.
The employee starts driving back to the workplace, but is involved in a motor vehicle accident with another car. The accident results in the employee sustaining an injury and hospitalization.
Is the employee’s injury resulting from the accident during the second trip back to the workplace a recordable injury?
A: In this specific instance, yes. But that is not always the case.
OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation at 29 CFR 1904.5(a) provides that an injury or illness must be considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment caused or contributed to the injury or illness or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.
Section 1904.5(b)(1) defines the work environment as the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment.
Work-relatedness is presumed under Part 1904 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.
For purposes of Part 1904, OSHA’s longstanding position is that injuries and illnesses that occur during an employee’s normal commute from home to work, and from work to home, are not work-related and therefore not recordable.
See, the preamble to OSHA’s Jan. 19, 2001, final rule revising the recordkeeping regulation (66 Federal Register 5916 at 5960).
When an employee is traveling during their normal commute between home and work, that employee is not in the work environment, nor is that employee performing a work activity in the interest of the employer.
Instead, the employee’s normal commute to and from work represents a non-work-related activity that is within the personal control of the employee.
The employee’s normal commute from home to work ends once the employee arrives at the work environment or starts traveling “in the interest of the employer.” See, OSHA’s March 17, 2021, letter of interpretation to Elizabeth Treanor.
Additionally, section 1904.5(b)(6) provides that injuries and illnesses that occur when an employee is on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities “in the interest of the employer.”
For example, travel to and from customer contacts, conducting job tasks, and entertaining or being entertained to transact, discuss, or promote business.
Emergency Call Back
In the scenario described in your letter, the employee had completed his normal commute to and from work for the day, and was directed back to the workplace by the employer to assist with a work-related emergency.
Since the employee was required to return to the workplace outside of his normal commute, the employee was engaged in a work activity “in the interest of the employer,” and was traveling as a “condition of employment.”
Accordingly, the resulting injury and hospitalization is work-related and must be recorded on the OSHA 300 log.
Q: If I had one work-related accident but two employees were injured, does this get recorded as one or two cases on the OSHA Log?
A: OSHA’s recordkeeping system tracks work-related recordable injuries and illnesses.
If both injuries meet the general recording criteria of Section 1904.7, or the application to specific criteria of Section 1904.8 through Section 1904.11, both cases should be recorded on the log as two separate cases.
Q: If an employee experienced a recordable hearing loss case, where would the employer record the case on the OSHA 300 Log?
A: Prior to 2004, employers should record work-related hearing loss cases according to the instructions included with the recordkeeping forms.
If the loss is associated with an event, such as acoustic trauma (e.g., an explosion), it would be recorded as an injury with a check mark in column (M)(1).
If the loss is not an injury, it would be recorded as an illness, with a check mark in the all other illness column.
Beginning in January 2004, employers must record all hearing loss cases in the separate hearing loss column (M)(5).
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).
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