Employers in Maryland face potentially severe penalties if they run afoul of workplace safety regulations, and checking records for accuracy is often among the first steps taken by OSHA inspectors. Employers hoping to avoid fines or other sanctions must keep track of workplace injuries and illnesses if they are considered recordable under OSHA regulations, but employers are sometimes unclear about the line of demarcation.
Sometimes, OSHA guidelines make it very clear that a workplace injury or illness is recordable. Employers must keep records when workers are killed, forced to take time off work or injured badly enough to be reassigned. Injuries must also be recorded when workers lose consciousness for any period of time or require medical treatment beyond what would be considered first aid. Employers must also keep records when a physician or other medical professional diagnoses a serious injury or condition even if none of these conditions apply.
There are exceptions to the OSHA recording rules. Only new injuries should be recorded, and the rules would not apply to workers who aggravate an existing injury after returning to work. Only work-related injuries or illnesses should be recorded, and employers need not keep records of injuries suffered by workers while they are on their own time or performing tasks of a personal nature. Commuting to and from the workplace is considered personal time by OSHA, and injuries suffered in automobile accidents during commutes need not be recorded.
Employers worried about overhead costs may sometimes contest claims for workers’ compensation benefits claims based upon the contention that the illness or injury concerned was not work-related and recordable under OSHA regulations. Injured or sick workers rely on these benefits to make ends meet until they are able to rejoin the workforce, and attorneys with experience in this area may make arguments on their behalf during workers’ compensation hearings.