Q. We have employees who work in the office about half the time, but work off-site the other half. If they were hurt driving for work, would I have to record this injury?
A. As always, it depends on the situation.
Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, all employers are required to keep records of each fatality, injury, and illness that is:
- Work-related, and
- A new case, and
- Meets one or more of the general recording criteria of 29 CFR 1904.7 or the application to specific cases of 29 CFR 1904.8-1904.11. [29 CFR 1904.4]
Assuming the second two criteria are met, something is considered “work-related” if the event or exposure occurs in the “work environment.” OSHA defines the work environment as “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.” [29 CFR 1904.5(b)(1)]
An employee’s normal commute is not considered work-related, so you would not have to worry about injuries that occur on the way to the office. However, travel off-site for other work-related activities would be subject to recordability since the employee had to make this trip as a condition of their his or her employment.
Some examples of this include, but are not limited to:
- A salesperson traveling to meet clients,
- Traveling out of town to attend a conference, or
- Delivering materials to customers.
As a final, finer point, an injury or illness would not be considered work-related if it occurred while an employee was on a personal detour from a reasonably direct route of travel (e.g., if the employee had taken a side trip for personal reasons) [29 CFR 1904.5(b)(6)(ii]. However, if an employee had made a personal detour and then resumed his or her direct route of travel, an injury would again be considered work-related and need to be recorded.