in , ,

Understanding OSHA Reportable Injuries: What Employers Need to Know

Exploring the Criteria and Considerations for Reporting Injuries under OSHA Guidelines

Key Takeaways:

  • Work-related injuries or illnesses must be recorded under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act if they meet specific criteria outlined by OSHA.
  • OSHA requires reporting of injuries resulting in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, or significant injuries diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
  • Certain conditions, such as cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured bones, and punctured eardrums, must always be recorded under OSHA regulations.
  • Injuries that are not work-related or do not require medical treatment beyond first aid are generally not considered recordable.
  • OSHA provides guidelines for determining what constitutes first aid and clarifies examples of treatments that are considered medical treatment for record-keeping purposes.


Maintaining a safe and healthy work environment is a top priority for employers. In accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, employers are required to report certain injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace. Understanding what constitutes a recordable injury under OSHA guidelines is crucial for compliance and ensuring the well-being of employees. This article explores the criteria and considerations for reporting injuries under OSHA guidelines, shedding light on the nuances of OSHA reportable injuries.

Defining a Recordable Injury

Under OSHA regulations, a work-related injury or illness must be recorded if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Death: Any work-related fatality must be recorded.
  2. Days away from work: If an injury or illness leads to an employee being unable to work for one or more days, it is considered recordable.
  3. Restricted work or job transfer: When an injury or illness results in an employee being unable to perform their regular job duties or necessitates a transfer to another position, it is considered recordable.
  4. Medical treatment beyond first aid: Injuries or illnesses requiring medical treatment beyond basic first aid must be recorded.
  5. Loss of consciousness: If an employee loses consciousness due to a work-related event or exposure, the incident is considered recordable.
  6. Significant injury or illness diagnosed by a healthcare professional: Any injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or licensed healthcare professional that is deemed significant falls under the recordable category.
  7. Specific conditions: OSHA mandates the recording of cases involving cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones, and punctured eardrums regardless of the aforementioned criteria.

Work-Related Determination

To be considered recordable, an injury or illness must be work-related. This means that an event or exposure in the workplace caused or contributed to the condition, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. It is essential to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding an injury to determine if it is truly work-related.

However, there are instances when injuries are not considered work-related and therefore not recordable. These include injuries sustained by the general public, certain parking lot accidents, non-work-induced mental illnesses, common colds or flu, injuries resulting from personal meals or grooming activities, self-inflicted injuries or those caused by self-medication, and injuries occurring on the premises due to outside factors like natural disasters.

Defining First Aid and Medical Treatment

To determine whether an injury requires recording, it is important to understand the distinction between first aid and medical treatment. According to OSHA guidelines, injuries that receive only basic first aid do not need to be recorded. First aid is defined as the following:

  • Using nonprescription medication at nonprescription strength (unless recommended by a healthcare professional at prescription strength).
  • Administering tetanus immunizations.
  • Cleaning, flushing, or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin.
  • Using wound coverings such as bandages, Band-Aids, or gauze pads, or using butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips.
  • Using hot or cold therapy.
  • Using nonrigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps, or nonrigid back belts.
  • Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim (e.g., splints, slings, neck collars, backboards).
  • Drilling a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure or draining fluid from a blister.
  • Using eye patches.
  • Removing foreign bodies from the eye using irrigation or a cotton swab.
  • Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs, or other simple means.
  • Using finger guards.
  • Providing massages (excluding physical therapy or chiropractic treatment).
  • Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.

On the other hand, injuries or illnesses that require medical treatment beyond first aid are considered recordable. Examples of medical treatments include prescription medication, immunizations other than tetanus shots, the use of sutures or staples to close wounds, rigid immobilization devices, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment.

Ensuring Compliance and Employee Safety

Understanding the criteria for reporting recordable injuries under OSHA guidelines is essential for maintaining compliance and prioritizing employee safety. Employers should establish clear protocols for incident reporting and ensure that all employees are aware of the requirements. Prompt investigation of workplace incidents, accurate documentation, and proactive measures to prevent injuries are crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

By prioritizing safety and diligently adhering to OSHA regulations, employers can create a culture of workplace well-being and protect the health and interests of their employees.


Accurate reporting of work-related injuries is an important responsibility for employers under OSHA guidelines. By familiarizing themselves with the criteria for recordable injuries and understanding the distinction between first aid and medical treatment, employers can ensure compliance and promote employee safety. Implementing effective incident reporting protocols and preventive measures is key to creating a safe and healthy work environment. By prioritizing workplace well-being and maintaining compliance with OSHA regulations, employers can protect their employees and foster a culture of safety within their organizations.

This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from and other Amazon websites.

Written by Admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.