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OSHA Recordkeeping Scenarios

Wildfire Smoke Inhalation

Question: Employees working in an office downwind from major forest fires can smell the smoke in the office. After several days, one employee experiences respiratory irritation and says they are having difficulty breathing. They are taking to the ER and are provided oxygen. The next day 4 other employees visit their personal doctors and are provided oxygen for respiratory irritation associated with smoke inhalation. Is it recordable?

Sand in Eye

Question: An employee at a foundry works with sand molding to produce cast iron parts. The environment can be dusty and sand can fly at times due to hammering or grinding parts. The employee leaves work at the end of his shift feeling fine. He goes home, showers, and goes to bed. The next morning, his eye is swollen and red. The ophthalmologist extracts a grain of sand from his eye using an alger brush. Is it recordable?

Off-the-Job Injury at the Jobsite

Question: A construction company is performing renovations on the south end of a college football stadium. The project is scheduled to last one and a half years. Therefore, work will be done during football season. The project manager is an alumnus of the school and a season ticket holder. A small crew is working on game day in the same parking lot as the tailgate is and the project manager decides to invite the crew to his tailgate to get some food. While serving food to the crew, he trips over a tool bag a crew member placed on the ground and suffers a fracture in a small bone of his wrist as confirmed by x-ray. Is it recordable?

Change in Business Ownership

Question: A small oil refining company is purchased by a larger refining company. As a part of the deal, the small refining company’s crude transportation business unit is also included. However, the crude transportation group was plagued by mismanagement, oil spills, and many recordable injuries over the years including the year of the purchase by the large oil refining company. The crude transportation company is immediately dissolved after the purchase and the assets are sold off. Are their recordable injuries still recordable? If so, who owns them?

Sent Home, is it Lost Time?

Question: Joe works for a company that gives employees the option of working from home or in an office. Joe likes going into the office for the face-to-face interaction. When working in the office, his company requires use of a surgical mask. Joe developed a rash on his face where the mask touches his skin and his doctor says he should just work at home from now on. Is it recordable?

Hammer Meet Thumb

Question: An employee is building crates for a warehouse and strikes his thumb with a hammer. The thumb is contused, and a couple days later, the thumb nail is suffering from the pressure of swelling. The employee is taken to an occupational health clinic where a doctor drills the thumb nail to relieve the pressure. The doctor also instructs the employee on how to take over-the-counter ibuprofen. The employee does not miss any work as a result of the incident. Is it recordable?

Injured Nose

Question: An employee using the restroom on break is struck by the stall door when a co-worker was unaware the stall was occupied. The door contacted the employee’s nose as he was preparing to exit. As a result, his nose is bloody and diagnosed as broken by the site nurse, but a clinic x-ray reveals no bone fracture. After the bleeding is stopped, the nurse provides ice and over the counter ibuprofen. The employee received no restrictions and did not miss any time. Is it recordable?

Terminated Injured Employee

Question: A line crew at a utility company are dispatched to replace a damaged power pole. The new pole was successfully placed and two linemen (one apprentice and one journeyman) go up into a bucket truck to attach the power lines to the new pole. The apprentice inadvertently grabs onto a charged line with both hands and receives a shock. In an effort to remove the apprentice from the wire, the journeyman uses the controls on the bucket to move away from the power line. The apprentice is unable to let go of the line due to the current and as the bucket moves away is left hanging on the line. The apprentice was wearing fall protection but did not clip onto the bucket and falls several feet. He is critically injured and hospitalized. Following the event, both the journeymen and apprentice are fired for "failing to follow procedures." The company decides to make the termination retroactive to the moment they failed to follow procedures. Is it recordable?


Question: In a warehouse, during a lunch break, two employees are participating in an online viral challenge where a person drops a piece of paper from the top of a flight of stairs and races down the stairs in time to catch the paper. The first employee is barely able to catch the paper in time. The second employee feels pressured to accomplish the challenge and ends up tripping while rushing down the stairs too quickly. He injures multiple body parts and ends up with bruises, cuts, broken bones and a concussion. Is it recordable?

Back Muscle Strain

Question: Early in the work week, an employee alleges tightness and mild pain in his back after pushing a heavy cart in a warehouse. The employee is seen by the onsite nurse who discusses conservative treatment options before visiting the doctor. The employee agrees he is not in enough pain to be seen by the doctor and follows the nurse’s instructions for over-the-counter naproxen along with daily massage treatments in the first aid office. The employee continues his normal duties and the treatment seemed to be paying off by the end of the week. Is it recordable?


Question: An employee alleges sharp stomach pain after struggling with a heavy lift on the job. The employee is evaluated by an occupational health doctor who diagnosis the employee with a hernia. Using a chiropractic technique, the doctor manipulated the hernia back into place with his hands. The doctor prescribes over-the-counter ibuprofen for pain and returns the employee to work. Is it recordable?

Fractured Ribs

Question: A truck driver hauling heavy freight experiences a rollover accident just before his DOT-required break. The truck driver is able to crawl out of his truck and he’s looked over by first responders. Everything seems to be alright, but his right-side ribs are in pain. The driver is seen at the nearest urgent care where an x-ray reveals two fractured ribs, likely caused by the seat belt and the force of the rollover wreck. The driver insists on not missing any time and the doctor obliges by not prescribing any lost time or work restrictions. The employee does not receive any medical treatment and is directed to take over-the-counter Tylenol to help with pain, if needed. The driver is back in a new truck two days later. Is it recordable?