Nobody likes to think about an accident. But they do happen, and they need to be properly reported. There are many good reasons for keeping thorough and up-to-date records of accidents and injuries that occur on the job. The primary reason, of course, is compliance with the law. But a thorough reporting and recordkeeping system can also provide you with valuable information concerning accident patterns and prevention.
OSHA requires every covered employer to maintain records of all recordable injuries and illnesses. Injuries and illnesses must be recorded if they:
- Involve an employee
- Are work-related
- Are a new case, meaning that the employee has not previously experienced a recorded injury or illness of the same type that affects the same part of the body or that the employee previously experienced such an injury or illness, but completely recovered
- Result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness
- Are a significant work-related injury or illness that is diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional
- Result from a needlestick injury or a cut from a sharp object that is contaminated with another person's blood or other potentially infectious material
- Result in the medical removal of an employee under the medical surveillance requirements of an OSHA standard
- Involve occupational hearing loss
- Involve an occupational exposure to tuberculosis and subsequent development of the infection
Organizations regulated by OSHA are required to maintain a log (OSHA Form 300) and an annual summary (OSHA Form 300A) of occupational injuries and illnesses, as well as a supplementary record of each recordable injury or illness (OSHA Form 301). These records must be kept up to date and must be made available to OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on request. You must retain them on file for at least 5 years.
State laws often also require you to keep safety and health records and to file reports. Workers' compensation laws, for example, may require accident reports.