When can you delete a case from the OSHA 300 Log?

Date Posted: 08/07/2023
Unconscious Employee

Employers can delete cases from the OSHA 300 Log if they later determine the incident was not work-related and should not have been recorded. However, employers cannot delete entries based on information that treatment already provided was not necessary.

If an employee receives medical treatment, days away, or restrictions, a work-related case remains recordable even if the employer later learns that treatment or restrictions were not necessary.

Not work-related

Suppose an employee passes out at work and the employer records the incident. Later, the employer learns that the loss of consciousness was solely caused by a personal medical condition such as diabetes or narcolepsy. The employer may delete the 300 Log entry because OSHA provides an exemption for incidents involving non-work-related symptoms that happen to occur at work.

Employers must use caution, however, because any contribution from the work environment makes the case work-related. For example, suppose an employee reports a shoulder strain from performing job duties and gets restrictions. The employee later admits that the condition started while doing chores at home. If the job duties likely contributed to the condition, OSHA considers the incident to be work-related. The employer cannot delete this case from the 300 Log.

Treatment not needed

According to OSHA, a recommendation for medical treatment from a licensed health care professional makes a case recordable, even if the employee did not need the treatment. For example:

  • A doctor prescribes an antibiotic to prevent infection. Even if the employee never takes the antibiotic and never gets an infection, the case cannot be removed from the 300 Log.
  • A doctor prescribes a painkiller and tells the employee to take it “if needed.” Even if the employee never takes the medication, the employer cannot delete that case from the 300 Log.

Now, one caveat is whether an injury or illness actually occurred. If the employee did not experience an injury or show any signs or symptoms of an illness, there is nothing to record. Still, some of OSHA’s guidance seems conflicting. For example:

  • If an employee exhibits signs or symptoms of exposure to a substance at work, administering oxygen makes the case recordable. However, an interpretation dated July 28, 2009, states, “If oxygen is administered as a purely precautionary measure to an employee who does not exhibit any symptoms of an injury or illness, the case is not recordable.” If the employer already entered such as case on the 300 Log, the employer could delete the entry.
  • Another interpretation dated October 20, 2014, addressed an employee who was bitten by a deer tick on the job. A doctor prescribed an antibiotic as a precaution against Lyme disease. The employee did not contract the disease, nor exhibit any signs or symptoms. OSHA ruled that the case was recordable, stating, “The preventive, precautionary or prophylactic nature of a medication is not controlling for determining OSHA recordability.”

Why the difference? The employee given oxygen did not experience an injury or illness, so there’s nothing to record. The other employee, however, got an injury (a tick bite). No matter how minor the injury, the recommended antibiotic made the case recordable. The employer cannot delete the tick bite case from the 300 Log upon learning that the antibiotic was not necessary.

Employers may remove an entry from the 300 Log upon learning that the case was not work-related, even if the employee received medical treatment or missed days of work. However, employers cannot remove work-related incidents based on information (even from a medical professional) that medical treatment, restrictions, or days away were not necessary.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Since OSHA created the recordkeeping rule to presume that any event a work is work-related, even an employer with a strong safety record could have to record cases on the OSHA 300 Log. Those entries might need updating, and in rare cases they can be deleted. The Incident Center in the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE helps you track recordable cases, count days away or restriction, and create the annual summary.

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