OSHA requires that you keep certain records. Employee visits to the health office or to an off-site clinic or health care professional's office will generate additional records. Maintaining your records using the resources of your OHDS is a good idea. The occupational health professionals connected with your OHDS have the training to answer your employees' questions about these records and to decide whether their complaints are work-related.
What follows is a description of the health-related records that you should have in your business. It is meant to give you enough information to decide if you want to manage these records within your OHDS. You need to consult the standards or the other references for more details. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) numbers or publication titles have been included for your convenience. For further assistance, contact the OSHA-funded, State-operated consultation service or your nearest Federal or State OSHA office.
OSHA requires that you keep track of all the work-related injuries and illnesses that occur at your worksites. OSHA Form 200, often called the OSHA-200 Log, is used for this purpose. Another form, the "Supplementary Record of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses" (OSHA Form 101), or its equivalent, also must be kept. Employers often use the "First Report Of Injury," required by the workers' compensation system, as an equivalent supplementary record.
THE OSHA RECORDKEEPING STANDARD, 29 CFR 1904
This standard also tells you how long you must keep the records, and how you are to inform your employees about the injuries and illnesses occurring in your company. For more information, see this standard and OSHA's 1986 guidelines entitled "A Brief Guide to Recordkeeping Requirements for Occupational Injuries and Illness," or the more comprehensive "Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses" (both published as OMB 1220-0029). These publications can be obtained from the OSHA Publications Office, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Room 3101, Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 219-4667.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND EMPLOYEE HEALTH MONITORING RECORDS
When you do any type of environmental monitoring, such as air sampling, OSHA requires that you keep the results. If you test employees for exposure to hazards, you must keep this information, also. The publication "Access To Employee Exposure and Medical Records," 29 CFR 1910.20, tells you that employees and their representatives must be allowed to see and copy the records, and indicates how long the records must be kept.
RECORDS REQUIRED FOR SPECIFIC HAZARDS
OSHA has issued a number of standards specifying things that you must do when your business involves certain hazards. Often this includes testing employees and the workplace for signs of the hazard. When this is the case, the standard also tells you how long you must keep the results of the tests. Three examples of this type of standard are the bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, the asbestos standard, 29 CFR 1910.1001(m), and the occupational noise exposure standard, 29 CFR 1910.95.
The Hazard Communication Standard addresses more than recordkeeping. It tells you how you must communicate to your employees about the chemicals you use or make in your business. Because the standard requires that you keep certain documents and communicate certain information, we discuss it here.
The standard says, among other things, that you must keep a list of all hazardous chemicals present at your worksites. You must have labels and signs to warn people about these chemicals. You must have material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for all hazardous chemicals. MSDSs provide information from the manufacturer about the ingredients and health effects of a chemical. In addition, employees must be trained about the chemicals to which they are exposed. The training must include information about what you are doing to protect employees and what they need to do to protect themselves. (See 29 CFR 1910.1200.)
INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE HEALTH RECORDS
Employee visits to the health office will generate records that should be kept in order to document what treatment is being provided and how the employee is responding. This data can also be analyzed by an occupational health professional seeking to uncover unrecognized hazards.
An important reminder: The confidentiality of individual employee health information is a fundamental concept of good occupational health practice. Moreover, your employees' legal rights to privacy extend to information that may be contained in their workplace health records. Therefore, access to these records should be controlled by health professionals who understand the requirements of confidentiality and the circumstances under which disclosure may be made. It is not proper for an employer to review individual employee health records. Should an employer wish to examine health information, for example, in order to spot injury or illness trends, this review must be limited to anonymous aggregate data. Such data can be compiled by the health professional who controls the individual employee records or by another person who is properly authorized to examine the records.