What is the strangest OSHA rules you’ve ever come across, and has it ever made you wonder if your case is recordable or not? 

These unusual circumstances are frequently kept out of the context until we have to face them, leaving Safety Leaders scratching their heads wondering if they are even recordable. 

Rushing to make that determination could result in unnecessary recordable cases due to a few strange conditions that were done or, in some instances, left undone.

In this episode, I’ll talk about different scenarios on the quirky rules of OSHA recordability and tell you how to work your way around them like a pro!


There are a few areas that affect whether or not an incident is recordable or compensable, and there are always some quirks in each rule. Here are some scenarios that will give you an idea about it:

  • The first rule is whether or not the incident happened in the work environment, and their work environment is your fence line. Is it recordable if someone is getting out of their car in the parking lot and they trip out of their car and fall and sprain their ankle? 100% Yes. Now, let’s say someone’s walking through the parking lot and getting hit by a car. Definitely not recordable because that’s a motor vehicle accident in your parking lot. 
  • The next one is injuries beyond first aid. Steri-Strips are considered first aid, and if I sent someone to the clinic and they closed it up with Steri-Strips, it’s not recordable, maybe something else would have made it recordable, but the Steri-Strips didn’t.
  • Another one is mental illness. Mental illness is 100% recordable if the doctor says that the illness was created from the work environment. But some states don’t allow mental illness to be compensable.

So these are just some examples of the quirky rules of OSHA when it comes to recordability and compensability. Make sure to listen to my podcast to know more about this and how you can work your way when you experience this at work.

Take Action

What quirky OSHA rules have you encountered in your workplace? And how do you manage to work your way on it? It’s nice if you will share your experience about it in our community. Please share your experience and thoughts about this in the comment below.

The Qwerky Rules in OSHA

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Let's say that you have an employee whose foot gets caught as they were getting out of the car in your parking lot. They trip, they fall, they sprain their ankle. They're out of work for a few days and they returned to work on crutches and in light duty. Is that recordable? Is it compensable? Well, that's what we're chatting about today.

All those weird in-between the line cases. Today is going to be fun. Let's get to it. This is Safety Brye, your number one safety geek. Why do we have the behaviors that we do superheroes in the workplace? Right? All of those things that go into making you an effective safety manager, I love what we do, motivation learning, teaching training anymore.

I just as much as I do safety.

Hello. Hello. Hello, and welcome to this safety geek podcast.

[00:01:00] My name is Bri, your number one safety geek. And if we are just meeting I coach and train workplace safety managers, how to do their jobs more effectively. And efficiently. So have you ever felt like you're talking to a wall that you're telling them what they need to do, but everybody just seems to be ignoring you all.

I have been there, my friend, and over the past 20 years, I've developed a process for managing a safety program that continuously creates culture and values. The role of the safety manager. If you want to learn more head on over to the safety geek.com and click on that big orange button to take my free course.

And I will show you my process. Now, before we start today's topic, I want to check in with you and make sure that you have signed up for the self evaluation challenge. This is a free five-day challenge that we are doing in the safety geek community and via email. I will tell you, I have been busting my bum, trying to

[00:02:00] create the best absolute challenge that I can for you guys.

This stuff is golden. And if this podcast happens to come out late it's because I have been working so hard at creating the videos and the training materials for the challenge. I am sitting here recording this going. I don't know when I'm going to have time to edit it. I don't know what I'm going to have time to post it.

So it may end up being a day late. I'm not sure, but we're hoping to get everything done on time, because like I said, I'm committed to get this out to you. Every single week, but make sure that you sign up for the challenge. It is absolutely free. It is five days. You can take as much time as you want to complete the challenge.

I do recommend that you at least dedicate an hour or two a day in the end, you end up having. A list of focus areas that you get to work through over the next year or the next 24 months. Now, if you're busy and you're like, oh man, I want to do it, but I can't make it. Then I still recommend that you sign

[00:03:00] up, you'll get the emails with the training materials and you can also choose the VIP experience.

So that way you get lifetime access to the materials. So be sure you check it out. It is at thesafetygeek.com forward slash challenge. Okay. So. To our topic for today. Today, we are talking about the qwerky little rules in the OSHA recordability as well as a few workers' comp rules as well. Now I want to thank Dave for this question.

He is the one that reached out to me and prompted this for me and said, Hey, this would be a cool thing to talk about. So that's what we're doing now, before I get into it, I want to make sure that we are all on the same page that we understand the definitions of the words that I may or may not be using. The first one is reportable.

If you've ever used the word it's OSHA reportable, you're likely using it incorrectly. This means actually. Calling up OSHA and

[00:04:00] reporting injuries to them. This is a requirement in some cases, but we are not talking about that today. So be careful when you use the word reportable. Next one is recordable.

I know they're so close. This means listing it on your OSHA log. This is an actual requirement. If you have 10 or more employees in the United States, if it meets a certain criteria, then you have to list on a piece of paper called your OSHA log. And then once a year, you have to submit it electronically unless you're in a state that doesn't require that.

And the next one is compensable and compensable means whether or not your workers' comp carrier will cover the claim. And what I want you to remember as we're talking is that compensability and recordability, they don't play in the same sandbox. They are completely separate. So when you're determining recordability and you're determining compensability you, you cannot

take each other into account. All right. So keep that in mind.

[00:05:00] Now, another thing I want you to be aware of is that my approach to safety is that I don't care if things are recordable. I just really don't care. It's never been that big of a deal to me, whether or not an injury is recordable, other than the fact that I want to follow the law and put what I'm supposed to on my log.

I care that the incident happened. And then it happened at all. And then I care about doing what I can to stop it from happening again. In fact, a lot of times thinking about recordability is that. In this wheelhouse for so long, like the 20 years I have been. Sometimes you forget some of the little quirky things about the rules that we're going to share about today.

And I remember this one time I was going through an OSHA inspection and they actually found like three injuries on my. Over the past five years that I didn't have to have on there because I just forgot one tiny little exception to me. I would much rather have extras on my log than not. However,

[00:06:00] I understand that some companies that your insurance rates are affected by your

OSHA recordability rate, or maybe your customers care about your recordability rate. You see that with contractors. So if you are a contracting company and then people are hiring you and they will ask for your OSHA log, I do understand that then whether or not it's on that log is pretty important to you now for the insurance.

Most of the time. It is what affects your insurance rates and your moderates is your claims history. And not necessarily whether or not a claim is OSHA recordable. So just keep that in mind, just know that whether or not something's recordable, like my approach to safety, I've never really cared. I'm just like, whatever, because I think it's an, it's a number that we should never be judged by.

Okay. I can go on for a whole another episode about that, but let's get on to today's topic. Okay. So

[00:07:00] there are a few areas that affect whether or not an incident is recordable, and there are always some quirks in each. So I actually broke my notes down into like these different areas. So the first rule is whether or not the incident happened in the work environment and their work environment is basically your fence line.

Think about it that way, if it's your, it's your fence line of your facility or any facility you are doing work at, if you have offsite facilities. So that includes parking lot incidents. So this is extremely interesting. So where did I started this episode with was if someone is getting out of their car in the parking lot and they trip out of their car and fall and they sprain their ankle, is it recordable?

100%. Yes. Now let's say someone's walking through the parking lot and they get hit by a car. Absolutely not recordable because that's a motor vehicle accident in your parking lot.

[00:08:00] Let's say that someone is in your parking lot and they're working on their vehicle and they slip with the wrench and they end up breaking their finger.

It's recordable. Now it's not compensable you're in your insurance company would never pick that up as a claim, but it is 100% recordable. Another interesting thing about work environment is break room incidents, things that happen within the breaker. And now there are exceptions of if they are preparing food for their own personal consumption and they get injured.

So like, if somebody is heating up some soup and they spill it on themselves, that is not recordable. But let's say that you have somebody in the break room and I'm going to use this example because OSHA uses this example. You have somebody in the break room on their break, in their personal time

knitting. I don't, I'm a knitter. So I know some of you are not knitters, but you know, use the long knitting needles and a

[00:09:00] slip and fall. And the knitting needle goes through their eye. Right. That's recordable. Crazy. Isn't it? Like, we're not a knitting company she's on break. And I actually had something very similar happen where somebody was on break and they fell down the stairs and I argued this point going they're on break.

They're not even on the clock. You know, this should not be compensable. And my insurance company actually covered it and they covered it under a rule. And I will tell you this story because I think it is crazy. So there is a precedent in the state of Florida. So this wouldn't necessarily apply to every state, but there is a precedent in the state of Florida that an employee left work on their break.

To get a pack of cigarettes from the convenience store across the street. And they got hit by a car and they sued under workers' comp and they won

[00:10:00] because the employer should have known their employees would go to this convenience store and the employer should have known that, you know, it was dangerous and had done put up some protections.

So keep that in mind too. When my person fell down the stairs, I just kind of looked at the situation going. This is not like they were literally on their own time. There was nothing wrong with the building. There was no neglect. Like if it had been a customer, they would not have covered it. They covered it because it was an employee.

So interesting. Another thing about work environment is violence. If there is employee violence in your facility and people are injured, that is within the work environment that will be recordable whether or not, it is compensable is what act they played within that violence. And that really depends upon your insurance company as well.

So, funny story here, um, workplace violence has always been a concern because I am coming from the food industry where there are a lot of knives. So basically

[00:11:00] you have a room of weapons and you have employees and you want to make sure that everybody likes each other. And then there is no violence because

weapons are readily available. So anyway, we had an issue where two employees on different sides of a working table, uh, got into an argument and one person. Through a stake, think of like a bone-in ribeye steak, frozen at another person, and it hit him in the eye. It caused a huge gash in his eye. There was then a fight broke out afterwards, the employee who threw the steak was arrested for assault.

The other employee that had the gash in his, I ended up at the hospital and getting stitches. I had to pay for that claim. It was 100% recordable and it was compensable because he did not reciprocate the violence. He said something across the table, the guy threw the steak at him,

[00:12:00] injured him, and then he jumped over the table and started punching him.

But the person who was injured did not. Um, do anything in return to that violence? He did not, I don't know if he instigated it right. Who knows what started it, but anyway, he wasn't like the person that started the fight. So I ended up having to pay for that claim, just so you know, what happens with that?

Uh, it goes against the court hearing. So like our insurance company took the expenses of that claim and applied it to the assault charge. So that way. As part of restitution when the person was charged, they would pay the insurance company bath. Good to know. I don't think they ever got their money though, because it's usually the way it works.

Alrighty. So those are some quirky things about work environment to keep in mind. The next one is injuries beyond first aid. Now I'm not going to get into what first aid is. That's a whole another episode and they're listed in the OSHA log, but there are some little tricky things about first aid that I want you to be aware of. And the one that Dave brought

[00:13:00] up was Steri-Strips where Steri-Strips are considered first aid and they are. You know, if you send somebody, if my person would the eye, if I sent him to the clinic and they closed it up with Steri-Strips, it's not recordable, maybe something else would have made it recordable, but the Steri-Strips didn't, you know, but unfortunately now a lot of people, a lot of medical providers are using glue.

They're not using Steri-Strips and glue that is administered by a medical provider is recordable. However, if you buy over the counter glue at your local CVS, because they do sell it to the public, now it's not recordable. So I think that that's kind of interesting. And Dave was saying like, he didn't know if the rules had changed that much on the

injuries beyond first aid, but honestly the rules don't change in OSHA all that frequently. Like you just don't see things changing very quickly. And the biggest change that I have seen in their rules are actually around, over the counter

[00:14:00] drugs, which I'll get to in just a second. All right. Some other things about injuries beyond first aid to keep in mind is massage therapy

is not recordable. So if you've ever talked to, they call them M a R T technicians, active release technique. You generally see this in chiropractic offices. If you've ever had it done to you, it's extremely painful, but extremely effective. It's one of the best things I've seen for strains and sprains and things like that.

ART is considered massage therapy so it's not recordable. So the whole idea with having a massage therapist come into your facility, maybe do the art, or maybe just do massage therapy and have it available. That is one way to stop a recordable accidents because you're actually providing a benefit to the employee that is going to stop them from like

going for treatment that would make it recordable because let's say that they have a strain and sprain and they go to a medical provider more than likely they are going to get a prescription that will make it recordable or physical

[00:15:00] therapy, which would make it recordable. But massage therapy is non recordable.

Now, another thing to watch out for is the brace that they use. So sometimes you'll send people to a medical provider and they will put a wrist or an ankle or something like that in a brace. If that brace is rigid in any manner, then it's recordable. But if it's not rigid, if it's just like an ACE bandage, then it's not recordable.

So having that conversation with your occupational health provider, and this is why I like to use occupational health providers, as opposed to just any clinic is extremely important. So that way they understand, like, no, I need to keep this off my OSHA log. Let's put them in an ACE bandage or some sort of non rigid means.

But the moment there's any rigidity. I don't know the word. Um, then you have to have it on your OSHA log except a finger guard. So, you know, this finger guards that have like the aluminum wrap

[00:16:00] around them to keep that keeps the finger rigid finger guards are non-reporting. I mean, other things may make it recordable, but the guard itself does not make it recordable.

So that's a big little weird quirk is like, it says no rigid, but literally my finger can't move. And then another little quirky thing I, I always thought was funny in the rules was tweezers. If you use tweezers to get a foreign body out of something, right? Uh, it's not recordable unless that place where you're getting the foreign body out of is the eye.

So let's say somebody has something in their eye and you send them to the medical provider and they just flush it with water and they get it out. That's non-recordable or saline, I guess they would flush it with. But if they had to use tweezers to get it out, it's recordable, but here I can get this big, giant splinter in the bottom of my foot and they use tweezers to get it out.

It's not recordable. So it's kind of weird what it is. Another one

[00:17:00] to watch out for is mental illness. Mental illness is 100% recordable. If the doctor says that the illness was created from the work environment. So if the doctor is saying it's, work-related, it's recordable, I seen this a lot and I would, I would suspect with COVID you guys might be seeing more of this.

I saw this a lot with stress related illnesses, people, especially salespeople. I got, I had so many salespeople across the country, so it wasn't even like a regional thing. Salespeople that would just get diagnosed with work-related stress. And then it became a workers' comp. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that our mental illness system in the United States is just so poor.

It is so bad that people, you know, a lot of insurance won't carry it, or a lot of providers won't take insurance. So then it ends up, you, you have to pay full price for it. And then

[00:18:00] who can afford, you know, 150, $180 visit, and then they go, okay, can I claim this on workers' comp say it's work-related and I can so think about that now, whether or not you can claim it on workers' comp is a state law.

So like some states don't allow mental illness to be compensable. But no matter what it's recordable. So if it's work-related mental illness, it's recordable, whether or not it's compensable depends on your state, which I do know there are some states where they don't allow that. Alrighty, next category is prescription medications beyond

over the counter use. Right? So if it's an over-the-counter drug that you're using at a prescription dose and where we see this, the most is ibuprofen. And I love to warn people about this. And every time I tell them, they're like, no, that's not true. And then they go look it up and they're like, oh, So the over the counter dose of

[00:19:00] ibuprofen is 200 milligrams.

It's pretty much what it has always been as far as I remember. And I'm pretty old. But what changed over the years is that when you bought ibuprofen, you used to buy them in 100 milligram pills. So you would open a bottle of ibuprofen and get two pills out and it would be 200 milligrams. And then when you go to the doctor, a lot of times they will prescribe 600 or 800 milligrams of ibuprofen.

And they used to actually like give you like, occasionally I'll get a prescription for an 800 milligram ibuprofen. And it's actually like a prescription with a giant pill right now used to do that to you. But so many times now, because it is such a low cost drug, they just go, just take, you know, for ibuprofen that's because now,

one ibuprofen is 200 milligrams. So when you look at the bottle of ibuprofen, it literally says, take one pill every four to six hours.

[00:20:00] It might say six hours. I don't have one in front of me. People were used to like, oh no, you could take two ibuprofen. And it's non recordable. Well, you can't do that anymore because two is 400 milligrams, which is at a prescription dose.

So keep that in mind and keep that in mind when you're offering meds as well. If you offer somebody over the counter medication for their injury and you're offering it to them out of prescription dose, you've just made that recordable. You know, because you're telling them that they, you have to actually tell them that they have to take more than the over-the-counter, which I that's tricky illegally too.

So the way I like to handle over the counter drugs is I love to have them available. I call them comfort products. And what I do is I just say, Hey, I have ibuprofen. Would you like to take some, how many do you want? Here's the, here's the box of packets take as many packets as you want. Right. That type of thing.

So that way it's taking it out of my hands and it's putting into somebody else. But you have

[00:21:00] to be careful what you tell people, because what you're telling them can end up making something recordable. A great example of this is our next category, which is normal job duties. So normal job duties means something that you do in the job every single day on a regular basis.

More than one time a month, I believe is what the definition is. Right? So if it's less than, more than one or two times a month, so it was less than. Then it is not considered a normal job function. So someday they do normally not like an essential, this is not essential job duties. Like in order to do the job, you have to be able to do these things.

It's what do you normally do on a day-to-day basis? And if there are any restrictions that stop them from doing their normal job functions. It's recordable. So what gets tricky is what if you trying to be the nice guy says, Hey, you don't have to do this in this task. We'll have somebody

[00:22:00] else do it for you until you're feeling better because you're just trying to be nice.

But you just gave that person light duty and you just made that incident recordable. Now, if it was already recordable, who cares, but if you're really focused on reducing your recordability rate, you have to be very careful about what you make people not do. Now you can. Have other people come along and help.

Right. But you can't tell them, no, you hurt your back. I know you don't want to go to the doctor, so I'm not going to make you lift that 10 pound box. I'll have Billy come over and lift it for you. You just made it recordable, even though you're not a doctor, a lot of people think you have to be a doctor to give light duty.

No, a supervisor can do it. So that's why it's extremely important that you train your people, that you do not restrict normal job duties, because if they do it's

[00:23:00] recordable and it's also extremely important that you have a solid job description. That matches what the job is, because a lot of times people put this arbitrary lifting requirement on their job descriptions of you must be able to lift 50 pounds.

I saw this somewhere where it was like, the job was an office job. Like quite literally, it was just sitting at a desk doing administrative work, but the job description. So they had, they have the ability to lift 50 pounds. And I was like, why? And they're like, I don't know. It was just on there. Like that's crazy.

Cause having that arbitrary lifting thing on there, you just screwed yourself because now they have to, if they can not lift 50 pounds, they can not do the job because in job description. So make sure that your job descriptions are solid and that they are accurate. So that way you're not screwing yourself over.

So one of the things I told you, I had OSHA tell me I had things on my log that shouldn't be there. The one that got me was the

[00:24:00] lifting because the people never lifted more than 20 pounds and they would have like a 15 pound lifting restriction. I totally forgot that the normal job duty was wrong. So that was one of them.

The other one was when they got stitches and it said the restriction was to keep it clean and dry. And I was in a wet environment. It, I didn't put two to two together that like, well, I can just put gloves on the guy. We give a gloves on the guy and the wound is clean and dry and he's still able to work.

And now it's not recordable. This stitches made it recordable, but still, so think about that. So like I had somebody one time, they actually got Steri-Strips and a. It was Steri-Strips. I can't remember where, and it was like, keep it clean and dry. And in my mind, I was immediately thinking we're wearing wet environments.

That's not a possible, but it was 100% possible. He just put a hat over it and kept a bandage over it or something. And I was like, duh Brye. So. Even the best of us, get it wrong every so often. So,

[00:25:00] um, anyway, so that is what I have for you. Today's quite a long episode. I could go on and on about this. Cause it's a really great question and it's so fun to talk, uh, horror stories, I guess, and share those different things.

Now, if you have something come up that is questionable. That you're like, this is where it is. This even recordable know that you have seven days to determine recordability you don't have to rush and determine it right away a lot. They give you seven days because you don't know if that person's going to get treatment.

Right. So that gives you plenty of time to reach out to the safety geek community and get a consensus. And what I want you to know is that if you get it wrong, It's not that big of a deal. They don't care. What OSHA cares about is a systemic issue. Like you are systematically not putting things on your log.

You are, you know, purposely trying to say that your rates are lower, but if you have a one-off here and there, and it's a weird quirky situation and you get it wrong,

[00:26:00] it's no big deal. Quite honestly, Alrighty. My friends. That is what I have for you this week. Remember to join the challenge? It starts on Monday or today.

If I get this posted on time, if you're late, that's okay. You can still sign up and uh, so make sure that you check it out. It is at thesafetygeek.com forward slash. Challenge. It is amazing if I do say so myself, because I am making all the material and I would love to see you in the challenge and I'd love to see in the community.

So bye for now. And I will chat with you next week.

You can check out the show notes and links for this week's episode at thesafetygeek.com. If you liked this podcast, be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast app. There are occasional bonus episodes that I don't always advertise, and you

[00:27:00] won't want to miss them one more favor, leave a review on that app too.

It helps others find the show. Thanks. I really appreciate it. And I can't wait to talk to you next week.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • What are The Quirky Rules of OSHA Recordability
  • Recordable and Compensable Events at Work
  • Important Notes on Rules for Better Understanding
  • How to Manage Scenarios Related to OSHA Rules


Now, if you have something come up that is questionable. That you’re like, is even recordable. Know that you have seven days to determine recordability. You don’t have to rush and determine it right away. They give you seven days because you don’t know if that person’s going to get treatment. So that gives you plenty of time to reach out to the Safety Geek community and get a consensus. Let’s help each other in our community!


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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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