Under the geographic presumption, OSHA assumes that any injury at work is work-related for the OSHA 300 Log, unless a specific exception in 1904.5 applies. OSHA may consider incidents “work-related” even if the employee was not engaged in job tasks, the employer cannot identify a specific event or hazard, and the employer could not have prevented the injury.
When OSHA published the current recordkeeping standard in 2001, the agency noted that “all injuries and illnesses which result from events or exposures occurring to employees on the employer’s premises are presumed to be work related.” In addition, OSHA noted that “the nature of the activity which the employee is engaged in at the time of the event or exposure, the degree of employer control over the employee’s activity, the preventability of the incident, or the concept of fault do not affect the determination [of work-relatedness].”
Remembering that fault is not a consideration may help when recording cases like these:
These cases illustrate how nearly any event can be work-related. In a Letter of Interpretation, OSHA stated that “normal body movements in the work environment, such as walking, bending down or sneezing, are ‘events’ which trigger the presumption for work-relatedness.”
Per 1904.5(b)(1), the “work environment” includes “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment.” It does not matter if the employee is “on the clock,” only that the employee is present as a condition of employment.
Under the geographic presumption, incidents that occur before work or after punching out can be work-related, even if the employee was not performing job tasks. For example:
Employers should familiarize themselves with the nine exceptions listed in 1904.5. However, even if the employer cannot identify a specific hazard, and even if the employee has a pre-existing condition, an injury will be work-related unless one of those narrow exceptions applies.
Tracking work-related injuries can be challenging, and if a 300 Log entry changes, the employer must go back and update the entry. The Incident Center in the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE helps you track recordables and other cases, allowing you to keep records for multiple locations and quickly update incidents that involve restrictions or days away.