OSHA recently released two interpretation letters about recording employee injuries. One involves an employee who fainted after seeing the blood from his own cut finger; the other involves companies that use staffing agencies to hire employees.
In the first case, an employee scratched his finger on a vinyl saw clamp at work. He walked toward the first aid station to get a bandage. On the way he met another employee who said he had a bandage. As the co-worker applied the bandage, the injured employee looked at his finger where there was a small amount of blood.
The worker with the finger scratch became light-headed and fainted. He didn’t suffer any other injury from fainting. He explained that seeing blood made him light-headed.
Since OSHA’s recordkeeping standard requires that an employee’s injury be recorded when there is a loss of consciousness – see Section 1904.7(b)(1)(v) – the company asked OSHA whether this situation constituted a recordable injury?
OSHA’s answer: Yes, it does.
To qualify, the loss of consciousness must be the result of a work-related event or exposure.
Employers don’t have to record loss of consciousness when it’s due solely to an employee’s personal health condition, such as epilepsy, diabetes or narcolepsy.
OSHA said in this case, the employee’s fainting was because he suffered a work-related finger cut and that contributed to the fainting incident. If it weren’t for the finger cut, the employee wouldn’t have seen his own blood and wouldn’t have fainted.
No joint day-to-day supervision
In the second case, a company asked OSHA who is responsible for recording injuries of contingent workers when supervision is shared by the host employer and the staffing agency.
The company in question is a manufacturer. The staffing agency is responsible for:
- hiring the employees
- employee orientation and training
- personnel matters including vacation requests, reporting injuries, compensation and benefits, discipline, and drug screening.
The company told OSHA the staffing agency “provides onsite supervision for these employees 24 hours per day, 5 days per week.”
But the company assigned the daily tasks to the contingent workers.
OSHA’s answer: “There is no evidence that the staffing agency supervises the details, means, methods, and process by which the work is to be performed. The activities conducted by the staffing agency … would typically be considered human resources activities and would not rise to the level of day-to-day supervision … Assigning daily tasks constitutes supervising … Accordingly, your company provides day-to-day supervision for purposes of OSHA recordkeeping.”
So the company would have to maintain injury records for contingent workers.
OSHA also noted: “There can only be one employer actually providing day-to-day supervision under OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation. In other words, for purposes of OSHA recordkeeping, there cannot be joint day-to-day supervision of temporary workers.”
Put another way: If you’re assigning them duties, you’re the employer and need to keep the OSHA injury log. Even if you consider your arrangement with the staffing agency to be joint supervision, OSHA doesn’t recognize such an arrangement as far as injury recordkeeping is concerned.
What parts of OSHA recordkeeping do you find confusing? You can leave your answer in the comments.