Each employer is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep records of on-the-job illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. If the incident meets specific recording requirements, the details must be provided to OSHA. These reports are OSHA recordable incidents, and even one can increase your workers’ compensation costs significantly.  

According to OSHA, the following are recordable events:

  • Any work-related injury resulting in a loss of consciousness
  • An injury that causes the worker to miss work days
  • Injuries that force restricted work or a job transfer
  • Any illness or injury that requires treatment beyond first aid

Obviously, not all on-the-job incidents are recordable. Ironically, overexertion is the number one cause of serious, disabling workplace injuries. An overexertion like a muscle strain is usually not a medically significant event when compared to some of the more serious illnesses and injuries that are seen in the American workplace.

However, minor overexertions and other non-serious issues often end up at the costliest point of care — the emergency room or urgent care facilities — which triggers a recordable event and creates an undue financial burden on both employers and their workers. 

Injuries and illnesses in the workplace cost employers billions each year. The cost of healthcare treatments, workers’ compensation payments, and lost productivity cost American companies more than $62 billion each year; but the unfortunate reality is that many OSHA recordable events are fairly minor and, with the right treatment modalities in place, shouldn’t become a recordable at all.

What’s the Difference Between a Recordable, Reportable, and Non-Recordable OSHA Event?

OSHA divides workplace injuries into three seemingly-simple categories: Recordable, reportable, and non-recordable. According to The Safety Training Solution, there are some basic differences.


Recordable OSHA events are workplace injuries that require medical treatment that extends beyond first aid. Recordable events must be listed on OSHA 300 logs. This can include illnesses or injuries that result in days missed from work or a transfer to another job during recuperation. A loss of consciousness or a significant injury requiring treatment is recordable. Any work-related diagnosis of chronic disease, fractured bones or teeth, or punctured eardrums is recordable. Basically, any incident that requires hospitalization or any treatment beyond rest, ice, and a Band-Aid, could be recordable. 


Reportable OSHA events are the more serious recordable events, and, yes, a workplace injury can be both recordable and reportable. These should be reported within 24-hours of their occurrence. This includes fatalities, amputations, or eye loss as some of the most typical reportable events.


Non-recordable OSHA events are those that require no days missed from work, no hospitalization, no loss of consciousness, and nothing more than a brief medical triage and first aid. Muscle strain, which is the most common medical incident that ends up recordable when it shouldn’t be, is not normally an OSHA-incident. The common cold, mental illness, or even injuries that result from the voluntary participation in wellness or recreational programs are not recordable, according to Assurance.

Recordable and reportable events must happen on-the-job during normal work hours. Employers must note that recordable events end up on the OSHA 300 log but reportable events (which are also recordable) must be reported to OSHA immediately and directly.

How Can You Know if the Injury is Non-Recordable?

OSHA points out clearly what is recordable and non-recordable under their current rulings. An incident is recordable it falls into one or more of these categories:

  • Death
  • Days away from work
  • Restricted work
  • Job transfer
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Other significant diagnoses from a clinical provider
  • Occupational injuries and illnesses that fit other recording criteria 

According to OSHA, traveling to an emergency room (ER) for a sprain may be wasteful from a cost perspective. Taking your employee to the ER doesn’t in itself create a recordable event, but it certainly can add unnecessary costs if the injury is minor. OSHA states, “The case is not OSHA recordable, even if the First Aid treatment is administered as a health clinic, emergency room, hospital, or other medical treatment facility.” According to Safety Training Solutions, OSHA lists the following common treatments as falling under first aid:

  • Using a non-prescription medication at nonprescription strength
  • Immunizations like tetanus are first aid 
  • Cleaning or flushing wounds
  • Wound-closing devices like elastic bandages
  • Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure 
  • Using eye patches
  • Removal of foreign material embedded in the eye
  • Therapeutic massages 
  • Drinking fluids to reduce heat stress

Ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, a few minor changes to treatment after the event can turn a non-recordable injury into a recordable OSHA event. For example, if an employee steps on a nail and gets a tetanus shot, this is non-recordable as long as the injury wasn’t closed by a suture or surgical glue. But if the employee develops an infection and requires a prescription for an antibiotic or other medication, the injury becomes recordable. 

OSHA admits that, “first aid treatment has a broad definition and includes procedures that may appear on the surface to be beyond first aid.” Even an x-ray can be considered non-recordable if the employee doesn’t lose workdays or require a transfer to lighter duty. However, any hospital admissions caused by an on-the-job injury are both recordable and reportable.

How Can Companies Reduce OSHA Recordable Incidents?

The best way to reduce OSHA-related events is to establish a comprehensive worker safety program in your business to both prevent injuries before they happen and to provide the proper care should they occur. 

There are also several other ways to legally and ethically reduce OSHA recordables particularly because so many of these events are as simple as a sprained ankle that ends up in the ER because there is no other way to provide support to the injured worker.

Too many companies today overtreat simple on-the-job injuries with one standard response: Going to the ER. Not only is this overkill for the majority of workplace injuries that are orthopedic and non-urgent, but it takes an exorbitant level of cash in the form of co-pays and elevated healthcare costs.  

Companies can reduce the number of unnecessary OSHA recordable events by implementing a solution like OrthoLive Remote Injury Care

Remote Injury Care provides injured employees with access to licensed medical experts almost immediately to triage and treat most jobsite injuries. Available wherever work happens, Remote Injury Care visits can be conducted via telephone calls or face-to-face video conferencing on smartphones, tablets or computers. 

This immediate telemedicine triage saves some employers 75 to 80% on job-related injury costs. Instead of making the emergency room your go-to response to any workplace injury, no matter how minor, technology allows you to connect quickly with a professional care provider that can diagnose the severity of the injury to determine the course of care.

Click here to schedule a demo and improve your workplace safety response with OrthoLive Remote Injury Care.

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