Ever since the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1971, employers (with a few exceptions based on size and/or classification as a low hazard industry) have been required to keep records of occupational injuries and illnesses. After passage of the Act, OSHA's rules for reporting of these injuries and illnesses were promulgated as 29 CFR 1904.
The first major effort to revise the recordkeeping rules was through a final rule published on January 19, 2001, which went into effect on January 1, 2002. With this revision, OSHA's recordkeeping regulation was written in a question-and-answer style which was intended to be easier to read and understand. However, as clear as these new regulations appear to be, there remain numerous idiosyncrasies regarding specific injury and illness scenarios and whether they must be reported under these OSHA standards.
As a result, employers and other industry groups and associations periodically submit questions to OSHA for review and response; OSHA subsequently publishes Letters of Interpretation as their means of providing additional guidance and understanding. Prior to the promulgation of the new OSHA recordkeeping regulations, there were over four hundred Letters of Interpretation listed on OSHA's website. Subsequent to the revised regulations, OSHA's website now contains only sixty-six such Letters of Interpretation.
This presentation is intended to provide an overview of some of the basic principles of OSHA recordkeeping requirements and review a number of injury and illness scenarios that may be subject to these regulations. The number of examples, however, is certainly not exhaustive. In fact, each workplace injury and illness situation comes with its own set of individual circumstances which must be evaluated independently against the regulations to determine proper reporting procedures and hence, is sometimes a quest in the trivial pursuit of the appropriate analysis of OSHA recordkeeping.