OSHA Recordable Vs Non-Recordable Chart: Understanding Workplace Incident Tracking

osha recordable vs non recordable incidents

Workplace incident tracking is of paramount importance in ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. By systematically recording and analyzing incidents, organizations can identify potential hazards, implement preventive measures, and promote a culture of safety. Understanding the distinction between OSHA recordable and non-recordable incidents is crucial for compliance with occupational safety regulations.

OSHA recordable incidents encompass severe injuries, illnesses, fatalities, or cases involving medical treatment, while non-recordable incidents typically involve minor injuries or incidents that are unrelated to work. To effectively manage and communicate these distinctions, organizations utilize an OSHA recordable vs. non-recordable chart. This chart serves as a visual reference, outlining incident types, work-relatedness determination, reporting requirements, and recordkeeping obligations. By maintaining accurate records and using the chart as a guide, employers can fulfill their legal obligations and take proactive steps to enhance workplace safety.

Understanding OSHA Recordkeeping

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a crucial role in ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees across various industries. On March 30, 2022, OSHA published the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule that requires employers of high-hazard industries to submit annual forms reporting their workplace incidents.

Three key forms are essential for OSHA recordkeeping:

  • OSHA 300 Log: A log that records details of work-related injuries and illnesses, including information about the incident, affected employee(s), and the outcome. Establishments with 100 or more employees in the highest-hazard industries are required to electronically submit this form once a year.
  • OSHA Form 301: A form used to document additional details about each recorded incident, such as a description of the incident, treatment provided, and the affected body part. Establishments with 100 or more employees in the highest-hazard industries are required to electronically submit this form once a year.
  • OSHA Form 300A: A summary form that employers must complete annually, providing an overview of the recorded incidents for the year. This is required from establishments with 20 or more employees.

OSHA Recordable Vs. Non-Recordable Chart

An OSHA recordable vs. non-recordable chart is a valuable tool for organizations to classify and track workplace incidents accurately. The chart serves as a visual reference, providing a structured framework for categorizing incidents based on their recordability.

Essential Components of the Chart

Incident Type and Description: The chart should include a comprehensive list of incident types, ranging from minor injuries to severe accidents, to ensure proper classification. Each incident type should be accompanied by a clear description, enabling accurate identification and understanding.

Work-Relatedness Determination: A key aspect of the chart is to determine if an incident is work-related or not, based on OSHA guidelines and definitions.
Criteria such as the direct relationship to work activities, location, and the involvement of work equipment are crucial factors in the determination process.

Reporting Requirements: The chart should outline the specific reporting obligations associated with recordable and non-recordable incidents. It should clearly indicate the responsible party, the timeframe for reporting, and the appropriate channels or forms to use.

Recordkeeping Obligations: The chart must specify the recordkeeping requirements for each incident category. This includes details such as the duration records must be retained, the specific forms or logs to complete, and any additional documentation needed.

How to Use the Chart Effectively

To utilize the chart effectively, employers should ensure that it is easily accessible to relevant personnel involved in incident reporting and recordkeeping. Proper training and guidance on how to interpret and apply the chart's guidelines will enhance consistency and accuracy in incident classification. Regular review and updates to the chart, reflecting any changes in OSHA regulations or internal reporting processes, will help maintain its relevance and effectiveness.

OSHA Recordable Incidents

A recordable incident, as defined by OSHA, refers to an occurrence in the workplace that meets specific criteria requiring employers to record and maintain related documentation. According to OSHA, these incidents fall under recordable injuries or illnesses. Incidents must arise out of work activities or occur within the work environment to be considered recordable.

  • Work-related fatality. Any workplace fatality, regardless of the time between the incident and the outcome, is recordable.
  • Work-related injury or illness resulting in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job. This covers severe injuries, such as fractures, amputations, eye loss, etc.
  • Work-related injury or illness that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, such as stitches or prescription medications, it is considered recordable.
  • Work-related diagnosed cancer case, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums.
  • Needlesticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis.

OSHA Non-Recordable Incidents

A non-recordable incident, according to OSHA, refers to an occurrence in the workplace that does not meet the criteria for recordability. These incidents are not required to be documented and maintained as part of the employer's recordkeeping obligations.

Exempted Situations and Exceptions

First Aid Treatments: Incidents that only require basic first aid, such as cleaning wounds, applying bandages, or using non-prescription medications, are generally considered non-recordable.

Non-Work-Related Incidents: If an incident occurs outside the work environment or does not arise out of work activities, it is typically classified as non-recordable.

OSHA Exemptions by Industry: Certain industries may have exemptions or reduced recordkeeping requirements based on their low injury and illness rates, as determined by OSHA guidelines.

Establishments with 250 or more employees which are not considered to be in high-hazard industries are not required to electronically submit recordkeeping information to OSHA.

Guide to OSHA Recordable Vs Non Recordable Injuries and Illnesses

When it comes to understanding OSHA recordkeeping, it's important to distinguish between recordable and non-recordable injuries and illnesses.

  Recordable Non-Recordable
Visits to Health Care Professionals Visits to healthcare professionals for work-related injuries or illnesses that require medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Visits for minor injuries or illnesses that only require basic first aid and do not involve further medical treatment beyond that.
Cuts, Lacerations, Punctures, and Abrasions Incidents involving cuts, lacerations, punctures, or abrasions that require medical treatment beyond basic first aid (sutures/stitches, staples, or surgical glue) are considered recordable. Surgical debridement, application of prescription or non-prescription antiseptic at prescription strength, and treatment of infection with prescription medication also fall under this category. Minor cuts, lacerations, punctures, or abrasions that can be adequately treated with basic first aid measures without further medical treatment such as cleaning, flushing, and soaking surface wounds and use of wound coverings like bandages, liquid bandages, band-aids, gauze pads, etc.
Inoculations Inoculations like rabies or gamma globulin that are used to treat a specific illness or in response to exposure in the workplace. Inoculations that result in adverse reactions or injuries requiring medical treatment beyond basic first aid are recordable. Routine inoculations such as tetanus immunizations or immunizations provided for public health without any adverse reactions that do not require further medical treatment are considered non-recordable.
Splinters Splinters that occur at the workplace and require medical treatment beyond basic first aid, such as removal by a health care professional (because of their location, depth of penetration, size, or shape), are considered recordable incidents. Splinters that can be safely removed with basic first aid measures (using irrigation, tweezers, or cotton swabs) and do not require further medical treatment are considered non-recordable.
Strains, Sprains, and Dislocations Work-related incidents resulting in strains, sprains, or dislocations that require medical treatment beyond basic first aid, such as prescription medications, casts, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, or immobilization, are considered recordable. Strains, sprains, or dislocations that can be adequately treated with basic first aid measures such as hot and cold therapy, the use of elastic bandages, wraps, non-rigid back belts, finger guards, etc., and temporary immobilization devices (splints, slings, neck collars, back boards, etc.) without further medical treatment are considered non-recordable.
Burns, Skin Rashes, and Blisters Burns, skin rashes, and blisters caused by work-related activities that result in days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job, or medical treatment beyond first aid are considered recordable incidents. Minor burns, skin rashes, or blisters that can be effectively treated with basic first aid measures, including draining fluid from a blister, without further medical treatment are considered non-recordable.
Bruises/Contusions Work-related bruises or contusions that require medical treatment beyond basic first aid, such as diagnostic tests, prescribed medications, and draining of bruises by a needle, are considered recordable incidents. Minor bruises or contusions that can be adequately treated with basic first aid measures like soaking therapy and hot or cold therapy without further medical treatment are considered non-recordable.
Medications If an employee requires prescription medications due to a work-related injury or illness, or non-prescription medication at maximum strength, it is considered a recordable incident. The use of over-the-counter medications or self-administered first aid treatments for minor work-related injuries or illnesses that do not require prescription medications is considered non-recordable.
Oxygen Providing oxygen to an employee due to a work-related incident, such as exposure to a hazardous substance, is considered a recordable incident. The use of oxygen as a precautionary measure without any specific work-related incident or injury is considered non-recordable.
Physical Therapy Work-related incidents that require physical therapy sessions for treatment and rehabilitation beyond basic first aid are considered recordable incidents. Minor injuries or illnesses that do not require physical therapy sessions beyond basic first aid measures are considered non-recordable.
Loss of Consciousness Incidents resulting in a loss of consciousness due to a workplace event or exposure (chemicals, heat, an oxygen-deficient environment, or a blow to the head), regardless of the duration, are considered recordable.

Brief episodes of loss of consciousness that are not work-related such as a personal health condition or a voluntary action (e.g, company-sponsored blood donation) do not require medical treatment beyond basic first aid are considered non-recordable.


Importance of Proper Incident Reporting

Accurate incident reporting is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. It enables organizations to identify trends, analyze root causes, and implement effective preventive measures. Proper incident reporting helps in:

Improving Workplace Safety: Identifying and addressing hazards promptly leads to enhanced safety protocols and reduces the risk of future incidents.

Enhancing Employee Well-Being: Timely reporting ensures that injured employees receive appropriate medical attention, reducing the severity and impact of injuries.

Proper incident reporting is not just a best practice but also a legal requirement. Non-compliance can result in penalties, fines, and legal liabilities. Reporting incidents promptly ensures compliance with regulatory agencies such as OSHA, helps protect employees' rights, and demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety.


1. How long should I keep OSHA records?
OSHA requires employers to retain OSHA records for a minimum of five years. This includes the OSHA 300 Log, OSHA Form 301, and OSHA Form 300A. It is important to maintain accurate and updated records for reference and potential OSHA inspections.

2. Can an employer be penalized for inaccurate reporting?
Yes, employers can face penalties for inaccurate reporting. OSHA emphasizes the importance of accurate recordkeeping, and intentional falsification or failure to maintain accurate records can result in citations, fines, and legal consequences.

3. Are there any industries exempted from OSHA recordkeeping?
Yes, there are certain low-risk industries exempted from OSHA recordkeeping requirements. These include establishments in specific retail, finance, insurance, real estate, and service sectors. However, all employers, regardless of exemption, must still report incidents that result in fatalities, hospitalizations, or amputations.

4. Are near-miss incidents considered recordable or non-recordable?
Near-miss incidents, where no injury or illness occurs, are typically considered non-recordable. However, it is essential to investigate and address near-misses as they serve as valuable indicators of potential hazards and can help prevent future incidents.

5. Can employees refuse to report incidents to avoid recordability?
Employees should not refuse to report incidents to avoid recordability. It is crucial to promote a culture of transparency and encourage employees to report all incidents, regardless of recordability. Concealing incidents can hinder proper investigation, risk assessment, and implementation of corrective measures.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.