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What is a recordable injury for purposes of OSHA reporting?

A work-related injury or illness must be recorded under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act if it results in one or more of the following:

  • Death.
  • Days away from work.
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job.
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional.

The OSH Act regulations also indicate that cases involving cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum must always be recorded.

An injury is considered work-related if an event or exposure in the workplace caused or contributed to the condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.

Injuries that are not work-related include those that occur to the general public, certain parking lot accidents, non-work-induced mental illnesses, colds or flu, injuries that arise from personal meals or grooming, injuries that are self-inflicted or from self-medication, and those occurring on the premises due to outside factors (such as a natural disaster).

Injuries that do not require medical treatment beyond first aid are generally not recordable. The OSH Act defines first aid to include the following:

  • Using a nonprescription medication at nonprescription strength. (For medications available in both prescription and nonprescription form, a recommendation by a physician or other licensed health care professional to use a nonprescription medication at prescription strength is considered medical treatment for record-keeping purposes.)
  • Administering tetanus immunizations. (Other immunizations, such as Hepatitis B vaccine or rabies vaccine, are considered medical treatment.)
  • Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin.
  • Using wound coverings such as bandages, Band-Aids, or gauze pads, or using butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips. (Other wound-closing devices such as sutures and staples are considered medical treatment.) 
  • Using hot or cold therapy.
  • Using any nonrigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps or nonrigid back belts. (Devices with rigid stays or other systems designed to immobilize parts of the body are considered medical treatment for record-keeping purposes.)
  • Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim (e.g., splints, slings, neck collars, back boards).
  • Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister.
  • Using eye patches.
  • Removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab.
  • Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs or other simple means.
  • Using finger guards.
  • Using massages. (Physical therapy or chiropractic treatment is considered medical treatment for record-keeping purposes.)
  • Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.


For more information, see 29 CFR Part 1904 – Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses