3 Things You May Not Know about Recordables

Anna Kleiner

Controlling recordables and reducing their impact on the workforce is a goal for many employers, but some employers make the mistake of thinking that reducing recordables is the same as reducing work injuries. While there can be a lot of overlap, there are nuances to controlling recordables that don’t always apply to preventing work-related injuries. Here are three things you may not have known about recordables and work injuries.

1. All recordables are work-related, but not all work-related injuries are recordable.

Very minor work-related injuries that don’t meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) list of requirements for recordables don’t have to be reported as recordables. This doesn’t mean that all minor work injuries aren’t recordable by default, just that sometimes minor injuries don’t qualify as recordables.

For example, if an employee gets punctured by a sterile needle and needs a band aid and nothing else, you don’t have to track it as a recordable. However, if an employee gets punctured by a needle that’s been in contact with someone else’s bodily fluids, the injury must be reported.

Heat stress is another example. If an employee has mild heat stress that can be treated with oral fluids (not an IV), it probably isn’t a recordable—but if an employee passes out from heat stress, the employer must report it to OSHA.

2. Preventing injuries doesn’t always help control recordables.

It can, but what’s done to control recordables and what’s done to prevent injuries don’t always neatly overlap. A great injury prevention plan can reduce your recordables simply because there are fewer injuries, but it doesn’t necessarily address circumstances that may lead to unnecessary recordables.

For example: you partnered with an occupational medicine provider to develop an injury prevention plan, but send your employees to their primary care physicians for care. Your employees like their primary care physicians and you believe that they get good care. However, while the number of injuries in your workplace has gone down overall, many of the injuries are still reported as recordables. Because some of the injuries have been very minor, you’re confused by why they count as recordable.

You find the answer in the primary care physicians’ recommendations. Primary care physicians may be unfamiliar with OSHA regulations and their treatment recommendations can have an impact on both employee and employer. In addition, because occupational health and recordables aren’t their area of expertise, they may choose to be overly cautious when it comes to treatment. They may “over-treat” injuries, which results in the employer being required to report the injuries as recordables to OSHA.

In contrast, occupational medicine physicians know OSHA regulations and how to provide the best treatment for the employee while also protecting the employer. They can help control recordables by treating appropriately and making appropriate work recommendations. In other words, they don’t over-treat because they know exactly what OSHA requires and, often, what’s involved in the individual employee’s job.

3. You can get a second opinion.

Let’s look at the example above of the primary care physicians treating work injuries. The employer is caught off-guard by the number of recordables they’re experiencing, even though they’ve been working hard to prevent injuries and keep their employees’ safe.

In the example, the employer waited until after the employees completed treatment to question the physician recommendations. Instead of waiting, they could have sought a second physician’s opinion right away. OSHA allows employers to get a second opinion on recordable work injury treatment recommendations, and decide which recommendation is more authoritative.

If the employer went to an occupational medicine physician and asked them to review the other physician’s recommendation, they could potentially prevent the need to report a recordable. This doesn’t mean that the employee wouldn’t get the care they need. The goal of both the occupational medicine physician and the primary care physician is to help the employee get better and receive the right care. It’s just that one is more familiar with OSHA requirements than the other.

Balancing the need to protect your business and ensure the best care for your employees can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Employers should know what counts as a recordable and what their rights are in protecting the health of their employees and their business. Talk to one of our experts about how Concentra can help you control recordables and get your employees they care they need.