It was a pleasure to present at the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference (CBC2016) in Philadelphia last week where we gave a presentation on the top OSHA issues in this industry and provided some awareness of the recordkeeping and reporting requirements. We received some interesting questions during and after the session which I thought would be appropriate to discuss here. These are just a few of the questions asked along with a brief version of our response.
Q: An employee is having occasional allergic reactions on her skin (rash). We are encouraging and she is in the process of getting medically tested for possible allergens. If she is allergic to something in the brewery and develops a rash, would each incident be an OSHA recordable?
A: The brewery should be commended for taking the issue seriously and helping their employee identify the source of the allergy. With respect to whether or not it is a recordable, the short answer is that unless the doctor gives the employee a prescription (ointment, medications, etc) when she has a reaction - presuming that the allergen is in the workplace (or the reaction occurs at work) - then it would NOT be a recordable incident. If the employee applies over-the-counter medications, then this would be considered first aid and not a recordable illness. On the other hand, if the employee goes into anaphylactic shock or some other serious reaction which requires treatment beyond first aid, then it would be recordable.
Q: Our brewery has 2 buildings located so many miles apart. There are 6 employees in each location. These represent the total employees for the brewery. Is our brewery partially-exempt from maintaining ongoing OSHA Logs 300/300A/301?
Q: If an employee gets injured at home and comes into work on the production floor while insisting that they are OK. However, that employee then gets injured (aggravating the injury from home) which results in medical treatment beyond first aid, would that be recordable?
A: This would be an OSHA recordable incident because the injury occurred at work due to work-related activities. The standard, in 1904.5a, states "You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness."
Q: If an employee is injured, can they refuse going to the ER or Urgent Care for an evaluation or treatment despite the urging to do so by the employer?
A: Yes, in a case where there is an injury, the employee has the right to refuse medical treatment or evaluation. The employer should document the incident very well, and if possible, request that the employee sign an acknowledgment of this incident and employer recommendation. Side note: I don't want to create confusion with other standards, such as 1910.134 respiratory protection as an example. When an OSHA standard requires an employee to be medically evaluated in order to perform a work task which requires respirators, for example, then only employees who have been medically cleared may perform those tasks in accordance with the relevant OSHA standard(s). If the employee refuses medical evaluation for respirator use (again as one example), then the employer must not let the employee perform such task(s) in violation of the standard. In other words, there is a difference between refusing medical evaluation after an injury AND refusing medical evaluation as a condition of working safely under OSHA requirements.