OSHA Records and Recording

The occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) requires certain employers to keep records to identify hazardous areas, inform employees the status of the workplace safety and health, and provide data for a nationwide survey of occupational injuries and illnesses. The records are also reviewed during every OSHA consultation visit and workplace inspection.

Some industries in the retail, service, finance, insurance, real estate sectors, or small businesses with less than ten employees are excused from most recording requirements. However, all employers are required to immediately report serious occupational injuries, illnesses or the death of an employee to the OSHA Enforcement Branch. Below are a list of records and recordings required by OSHA standards.

Injury & illness records

Creating an effective Injury and Illness Prevention (IIP) Program should result in lower injury, illness, and fatality rates and reduce workers’ compensation costs. Every employer must establish, implement, and maintain a written (IIP) and a copy must be available at each workplace or at a central worksite location where all employees have access. The IIP record keeping system has four steps:

  • Create a 301 incident report of each recordable workplace fatality, injury, and illness.
  • Enter a summary of each recordable injury or illness in the 300 log.
  • No later than February 1st, you must add the total number of recordable injuries or illnesses on the 300A annual summary form and post it where employees can see it, and keep it up through April 30th, providing copies when required.
  • You must maintain these records in your employer files for five years.

Reporting fatalities & serious injuries

Employers are required to report serious injuries or illnesses, catastrophes, and work-related or suspected work-related deaths within eight hours (by phone or fax) to the nearest district office of the OSHA Enforcement Branch. Failing to do so can result in substantial fines.

A serious injury or illness is defined as one that requires the employee to be hospitalized for more than 24 hours for other than medical observation or in which a part of the body is lost or permanently disfigured. Serious work-related injuries or illnesses does not include accidents on a public street or highway.

Exposure records

An exposure record must be completed if an employee is exposed to toxic substances or harmful physical agents. The report must contain information about how the body absorbed the substance or agent, material safety data sheets, and any information that shows the identity of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent.

There are workplace injuries that can manifest years after an employee was exposed to harmful physical agents or toxic substances in the workplace. OSHA requires that employers keep records of employee’s exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents for multiple years to ensure the information is available in case injuries manifest at a later date.

Documenting activities

OSHA standards require employers to keep records of the steps taken to establish and maintain the injury and illness prevention (IIP) program to verify the company’s systemized approach to safety and health concerns. They want to see records of your periodic inspections to identify hazardous conditions and work practices, and documentation of the safety and health training given to employees. These records must be kept for at least one year.

Employee access to medical & exposure records

Employees have the right to examine and make copies of medical and exposure records and analyses based on the records pertaining to their employment. You must permit employees to access their exposure and medical records, and upon request, copy of the document for them free of charge or loan them the document to copy it offsite.

In the attempt to improve the detection, treatment, and prevention of occupational disease and to support a ‘worker’s right to know, the General Industry Safety Order 3204 states that workers and their designated representatives may request to see and copy:

  • Their own medical records
  • Records of exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical agents measured to gauge the absorption of a substance or agent by body systems.
  • Records of exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical agents for employees with similar jobs or working conditions.
  • Material safety data sheets or equivalent information that the employer has for chemicals or substances used in the workplace.

All employers covered by the OSHA regulations – except those less than ten employees at any one time during the year or are in low-hazard industries – are required to keep OSHA records. Be sure to check with your states OSHA website for details on health and safety standards.


These records are reviewed during every OSHA consultation or inspection and help to keep your workplace safe for employees. The records document hazardous areas or operations that need to be repaired, adjusted or corrected and inform employees of your company’s workplace safety and health status. Valuable information from your OSHA records supply data for a nationwide survey of occupational injuries and illnesses and help educate other businesses about workplace health and safety.

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