Some safety-related myths persist for decades

Date Posted: 06/27/2022
OSHA Myths

To stay in compliance and protect employees, you need accurate information. Unfortunately, some safety myths persist across time and organizational levels. Our experts have seen the same myths year after year, so we’re debunking a few here.

Myth: If workers’ compensation denies a claim because the injury is not “work-related,” then the injury is not recordable on the OSHA 300 Log.

Fact: Workers’ compensation is state law and OSHA standards are federal regulations (or the equivalent in state-plan states). Both agencies use the term “work-related” but apply different definitions. An injury could be denied workers’ compensation because it isn’t “work-related” under the state definition, but the case could still be “work-related” under OSHA’s definition. The reverse can also happen, where workers’ comp accepts a claim, yet the case would not be recordable on the 300 Log.

Myth: Forklift operators must be retrained every three years.

Fact: Forklift operators must undergo a performance evaluation at least once every three years, but if the evaluation doesn’t identify any issues, retraining is not required. The evaluation should consist of observing the operator performing routine tasks and questioning the operator on knowledge and safety. If problems are found, OSHA requires refresher training, but it may focus only on topics related to the problem areas.

Myth: If a health care professional recommends restrictions for an injured employee, the case is recordable as a restricted work case on the OSHA 300 Log.

Fact: This is true only if the restrictions affect at least one routine job function, defined as duties the employee regularly performs at least once per week. For example, if an employee is told not to lift more than 20 pounds, but the job only requires lifting that much once or twice per month, the routine functions are not affected, so the injury is not a restricted work case on the 300 Log. OSHA even clarified that if a restriction causes an employee to work more slowly (from limited use of one arm), but the employee still performs all routine functions, the injury is not a restricted work case. A loss of productivity is not a restriction.

Myth: Loading dock doors open for ventilation (when no trailer is parked) don’t need fall protection, or just a single chain will suffice.

Fact: OSHA requires fall protection for any edge that is four feet or more above a lower level, and most loading docks are four feet or more, so fall protection is required. A single chain is not sufficient, but two chains could be enough to serve as a guardrail system. Although employers commonly think of guardrails as solid metal structures, OSHA allows flexible materials such as rope or chain. However, a guardrails must have both a top rail and mid-rail, so a single chain is not sufficient.

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Safety Topic Webcasts

Our experts get a lot of questions, and we’ve been answering those questions for more than 30 years. Often, the same misconceptions continue to arise. These myths can put employees at risk or result in OSHA citations. To learn if you’re unknowingly following a common misconception, watch our archived webcast “OSHA Myths and Misconceptions: Setting the record straight” recorded on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Log in or start a free trial to watch this archived webcast!

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