Q30 - Debris in Eye

Question: 

An eye doctor discovers a small speck of rusted metal imbedded in an employee’s eye during a routine exam. The doctor asks the employee how metal became imbedded in the employee’s eye. The employee tells the doctor he is only exposed to flying metal debris at work, but does not recall a particular incident. The doctor opines the metal came from the employee’s job as a welder and grinder at a machine shop and proceeds to surgically remove the imbedded metal. The employee is prescribed antibiotic drops after the metal removal and is returned to work at full duty the next day. Is it recordable?

Answer:

YES. Even though the employee had not reported an incident involving his eye and could not recall an incident, he is only exposed to flying metal debris at work. OSHA presumes work relatedness unless the incident meets certain requirements noted in 1904.5(b)(2). Surgical removal of the metal and antibiotic eye drops are both considered treatment beyond first aid. 

1904.5(a), 1904.5(b)(2), 1904.5(b)(3)1904.7(a), 1904.7(b)(5)(ii)(A)

1904.5(a) Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in §1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies

1904.5(b)(2) 

1904.5(b)(3) How do I handle a case if it is not obvious whether the precipitating event or exposure occurred in the work environment or occurred away from work? In these situations, you must evaluate the employee's work duties and environment to decide whether or not one or more events or exposures in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.

1904.7(a) Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to meet the general recording criteria, and therefore to be recordable, if it results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. You must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.

1904.7(b)(5)(ii)(A) Using a non-prescription medication at nonprescription strength (for medications available in both prescription and non-prescription form, a recommendation by a physician or other licensed health care professional to use a non-prescription medication at prescription strength is considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes);

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