What qualifies as a work-related injury?


Posted by admin on December 15, 2015

What is a work-related injury? Construction worker clutches knee at a building site.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)'s regulations, incidents that are not work-related do not need to be recorded on your OSHA recordkeeping logs. Determining work-relatedness is key to ensuring that you're properly recording safety incidents and avoiding violation fines.

What is OSHA's Definition of Work Related Injury?

According to OSHA Standard 1904.5, an injury is defined as work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the injury or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. The general rule is an injury or illness is presumed to be work-related when they occur because of events in the workplace.

Since this definition seems a little vague, there are often questions regarding whether or not an incident is work-related. We've compiled some of the most common

Keep in mind, although it may not look good to your supervisors, it's better to err on the side of caution and deem an incident work-related rather than not. OSHA has publicly stated something as simple as fainting at the sight of blood at work is considered a work-related injury.

Is fainting a work-related injury?

Fainting, also known as loss of consciousness, is one of the main criteria to determine if an incident is recordable. As such, it's only a matter of determining if the fainting was caused by an event that occurred within the work environment.

For example, say an employee suffered a minor cut while working on a machine and has minor bleeding. Another employee then faints at the sight of the blood. Since the fainting was caused by an event in the work environment (the other employee being injured at work), the incident is work-related.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work-related injury?

Injuries or illnesses caused by repetitive motions over long periods of time are eligible to be work-related. Furthermore, even if work is only a contributing or aggravating factor to the injury, it is still work-related for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. Therefore carpal tunnel injuries that where work can at least be determined to be a contributing factor will are considered work-related.

Side view of worker with backache while lifting box in the warehouse

What is the "work environment"?

Whether or not injuries and illnesses are caused by something in the "work environment" is key to determining if an injury is worked related. It's critical you know what OSHA considers the work environment to avoid recordkeeping mistakes.

OSHA 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. The work environment includes not only physical locations but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.

Could a non-work-related incident occur in the workplace?

Yes! There are several circumstances in which an incident would not be defined as work-related, including if:

  • At the time of the incident, an employee was present in the work environment as a member of the general public rather than as an employee.
  • The incident results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness, or recreational activity such as blood donation, physical examination, flu shot, or exercise class.
  • The incident is solely the result of an employee doing personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the establishment outside of the employee's assigned working hours.
  • The injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident and occurs on a company parking lot or company access road while the employee is commuting to or from work.

Still unsure whether an incident needs to be recorded on your recordkeeping logs? Check out our ultimate guide to OSHA recordkeeping.

To learn how Vector EHS Management software can help your company with conducting incident analyses and maintaining OSHA compliance, contact us today.

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