Effective January 1, 2002, OSHA’s revised Part 1904 “Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses” standard will replace the former record-keeping obligations of the employer, less two proposed modifications. The modifications in question are: 1) definitions of “musculoskeletal disorder” and “ergonomic injury” and the requirement to indicate them on your OSHA 300 log (replacing the OSHA 200 log); and 2) the criteria for an employer to determine the level of hearing loss to be considered “significant” and therefore recordable. Congress will conduct public hearings on these items and the resulting determinations and effective dates will eventually be published in the Federal Register.

The revisions were initiated in the mid-1980s and only recently approved as a final rule. They can be downloaded from www.osha.gov. The standard is divided into seven sections, covered below.


While Part 1904’s purpose for revision may seem obvious, apparently many employers were neglecting their record-keeping duties and under-reporting fatalities, injuries and illnesses to the authorities. OSHA is quick to emphasize that neither recording nor reporting an injury indicates: any fault on the part of the employer or employee; a violation of an OSHA standard; or employee eligibility for workers compensation or other benefits of any kind.


Everyone who is covered by Parts 1926 and 1910 of the OSHA Standards under the OSH Act is also regulated by Part 1904. There are, however, two partial exemptions: 1) Employers with less than 10 employees “At all (peak) times during the last calendar year;” and 2) Employers in specific low-hazard industries as listed in Appendix A to Subpart B. These industries are tabulated according to their SIC Codes, as well as by brief industry descriptions.

Recording Criteria and Record-keeping Forms

This is, undoubtedly, the belly of the bureaucratic beast. Written in a Q&A format, it first describes, in plain English, the criteria by which an employer determines if an injury or illness is deemed recordable. (See flow-chart 1904.5 for recordable documentation). Basically, an injury or illness is work-related, “if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury or illness.” The term “work environment” is defined as any location where one or more employees are either working or present as a condition of their employment.

Subsection 1904.5(b)(2) lists nine basic exemptions to this rule:

Injury or illness affecting a non-union visitor to the workplace.

End-symptoms that occur at work from causative agents outside the work environment.

    Illness as a result of eating or drinking, or preparing food for personal consumption.

  • Injuries or illnesses resulting form voluntary participation in company-organized medical, fitness or recreational activities.

  • Injuries occurring as a result of an employee performing personal tasks outside of assigned working hours.

  • Injuries that are self-inflicted or the result of personal grooming, or self-medication for a non-work-related condition.

  • Injuries resulting from a vehicle accident on employer’s property only while in the midst of commuting to and from work, before or after hours.

  • Illnesses such as the common cold or flu (contagious diseases that can be proven to have been contracted at work, are, however, recordable).

  • Any mental illness or disorder (unless accompanied by a licensed health care professional’s diagnosis and written statement that it was work-related or induced).

Subsection 1904.5(b)(6) determines if a roofing employee is working “on the road” and incurs an injury or illness, whether or not that incident is recordable. Lodging and restaurants, even if provided by the employer for the traveling worker, are considered “home-away-from-home” by OSHA. Therefore, the same criteria apply as might for a local roofing employee: If injured while commuting from a temporary residence to the remote job, it is not recordable. Also, if the remote employee takes a detour from a “reasonably direct route” for non-work-related purposes, then the resulting injury or illness is not recordable.

A new recordable case for any employee is determined whenever that employee: a) hasn’t previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affects the same part of the body and b) has recovered completely from an injury or illness and becomes injured or ill again in an identical way.

It is clearly mandatory that the employer record the specific data on his OSHA 300 log whenever any of the following occur:

There is at least one death. This death may occur at a time or date after the initial injury or illness, but when the connection is made to an occupational hazard exposure, the report must be made to the OSHA Area Office within eight hours.

One day or more is lost from work. Do not count the day of the injury. Count all calendar days, not just work days. You may “cap” lost work days at 180 days, max.

Employee is restricted in any way. This is regardless of duration or level of difficulty, but must be directly due to the effects of the injury or illness. Restricted work is whenever the employer or licensed health-care professional (LHCP) keeps the employee from performing one or more of the routine functions of his/her job, or reduces the length of the tasks or workday that he or she might otherwise have performed.

Employee is transferred to another job. This must be due to the effects of the injury/illness. If the employee works half a shift before the incident, then that entire shift is recorded as a job transfer (or restricted duty in the same box of the OSHA 300 log.)

Medical treatment beyond first aid is given. This is described as care of a patient to combat a disease or physical disorder that does not include: visits to a physician for observation or counseling; conducting diagnostic procedures (x-rays, blood test, etc.); or performance of “first aid” (itemized in Subsection 1904.7(b)(5)(ii)) by anyone regardless of professional standing.

Employee has sustained a loss of consciousness. The length of time does not matter.

Significant injury/illness diagnosed by a LHCP. This diagnosis may be made regardless of the time out-of-work. All lost work days are determined by the physician’s recommended length of time, regardless if the worker comes back to work early or extends his/her recuperation time.

The balance of this section of the rule is involved with recording needle-stick and sharps injuries (1904.8), medical removals (1904.9), occupational hearing loss (1904.10), work-related tuberculosis (1904.11), and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (1904.12).

Recording Forms

The subsection 1904.29 describes the three official forms now required for recording an employee’s injury or illness.

OSHA 300 Log of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses

  • This document replaces the OSHA 200 log and provides divisions in which the employer provides company information and enters a one to two line description of each recordable injury or illness.

  • Log entries must be made within seven days of notification.

  • A copy of the log must be kept at each of the employer’s multiple establishments. All employees must be linked to at least one establishment.

  • The log covers any employee who is supervised on a day-to-day basis by the employer (even if temporary day labor).

  • Self-employed persons are not regulated by OSHA.

  • Any employee, former employee or their representative may request a copy of your OSHA 300 log and you must provide it by the end of the next business day.

OSHA 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses

  • Employers compile the 300A at the end of each calendar year after reviewing each 300-log entry for accuracy and completeness.

  • The term “Privacy Case” may be substituted for the employee’s name if requested for privacy concerns (intimate anatomy, reproductive disease, sexual assault, metal illness, HIV, TB, hepatitis, etc.).

  • The document is certified by signature of the employer, an officer of the corporation, or the highest- ranking company official available.

  • Post the 300A Annual Summary in a conspicuous place where workers congregate and notices are typically posted (lunchroom, job trailer, inside gang box).

  • The posting period is no later than February 1st of the following year until April 30th of that same year.

OSHA 301 – Incident Report Form

  • The employer fills out this form for each recordable injury/illness entered on the 300 log.

  • The form must be filled out within seven days of the incident (or notification of the incident).

  • Employers may substitute a comprehensive insurance form if the information is duplicative and detailed.

    All original OSHA record-keeping forms must be maintained on the employer’s property and available for five years minimum from the end of the calendar year that they cover. The 300 log should be updated regularly as necessary during the year. The 300A and 301 forms do not need updating. Copies of these forms may be obtained from your local OSHA Area Office or may be downloaded from the OSHA Web site.

    Employee Involvement

    As is typical with most recently revised standards, OSHA Part 1904.35 has clarified the language of the regulations as well as mandated more employee involvement in their own safety and health on the job. The employer must now inform new and current employees of how they are to report any injury or illness, no matter how small or insignificant, to the employer to be evaluated for OSHA recordability.

    There must be a written explanation (usually found in the company’s safety and health program) including which details should be reported and which individual(s) is responsible for filling in the appropriate incident report. Most minor incidents should be reported to the employer by the end of shift. Serious and catastrophic incidents (involving death and/or hospitalization of three or more) should be reported immediately, because the employer is mandated to report these verbally (by phone or in person) to his/her local OSHA Area Office (or call 800.321.OSHA, 24 hours a day) within eight hours of the incident.

    A typical incident report form should include the basic data necessary to comply with the OSHA Rule:

    company name, contact person and phone number

    a brief description of the incident, as well as its date, time and specific location

    number and names of affected employees

    photo documentation if possible

    The employer must also provide limited access to all the OSHA injury and illness records to all current or former employees and their authorized representative, collective bargaining agents, legal representative or anyone the employee designates in writing as such. The 300 log must be provided within one business day, while the 301 Incident Report must be provided within seven business days. All records must be provided at no charge to the employees or their designated representatives.

    Subsection 1904.36 clearly prohibits anyone from discriminating against an employee for reporting a work-related fatality, injury or illness (whether OSHA recordable or not) or requesting a copy of any of the employer’s OSHA incident records.

    As with most newly revised OSHA standards, officials have allowed the employer some notification time before Part 1904 becomes an effective and enforceable law of the land. After that date, compliance officers will be directed to diligently investigate workplaces and cite employers for record-keeping violations. Perhaps a revision in your company’s Safety and Health Program to include new record keeping and reporting procedures and training your employees in their roles will become a priority as 2002 approaches.