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The use of kinesiology tape to treat injuries is a form of first aid and not a medical treatment for record-keeping purposes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) decided in an about-face.
OSHA re-evaluated its prior classification that the use of kinesiology tape constitutes a form of medical treatment in a July 6, 2015, interpretation letter.
Kinesiology tape is a thin, stretchy, elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive. It is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows it to be worn without binding or restricting movement. The tape is used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries, and inflammatory conditions.
“The use of kinesiology tape and other types of elastic taping is included within the definition of first aid treatment, and thus the use of such tape alone would not be considered medical treatment,” said Amanda Edens, director of technical support and emergency management at OSHA.
In a December 2014 interpretation letter, OSHA stated that “use of kinesiology tape is akin to physical therapy and is considered medical treatment beyond first aid for OSHA record-keeping purposes.”
The distinction is significant because under OSHA’s injury and illness reporting and record-keeping rules, any injury that requires medical treatment beyond first aid is a recordable injury. OSHA’s latest interpretation recognizes that using the tape alone falls inside the scope of its definition for first aid.
According to Edens, in its re-evaluation, OSHA reviewed information associated with kinesiology tape including patent applications, instructional materials, and evaluations and assessments of its effects.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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