Recordable Injuries – Why Employees Should Care

Recordable Injuries – Why Employees Should Care Safety Talk

All injuries need to be reported, no matter how small. Not only does it protect you, but it also protects the company as a whole by possibly preventing a first-aid injury from developing into an OSHA recordable injury.

This safety talk looks at recordable injuries and the impact not reporting injuries can have.

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What is a Recordable Injury?

OSHA has guidelines that dictate what work-related injuries must be recorded. Severe injuries that are work-related are almost always considered a recordable injury. Some examples include injuries that result in days away from work, injuries that result in restricted duty, loss of consciousness, and death.

Recordable injuries are a negative mark on a company’s safety record.

recordable injuries toolbox talkWhy Should Employees Care About Recordable Injuries

Companies, such as insurance companies or large contractors who are bidding out work, look at rates like the EMR (Experience Modifier Rate) and the TRIR (Total Recordable Incident Rate), which quantify the rate of workplace injuries at a company.

In the case of insurance companies, they base the costs of premiums and insurability of companies applying for insurance coverage largely on these numbers.

These rates can also be a significant factor in being awarded future projects from larger companies. If a bidding company has too high of an incident rate, then these companies won’t even allow the subcontractor to bid on the work. It is deemed too much of a liability for the company that is awarding the work, no matter how low the bid.

A high rate of recordable injuries has very real negative business impacts.

For example, the more money the company spends on insurance, or the loss of money from a lack of work, can cause the employees to be laid off, not receive bonuses, or receive less of the other perks that may be offered.

The goal of safety efforts is to prevent incidents and injuries in the first place, but when an injury does occur, employees need to understand that they need to report it immediately.

Medical Treatment Beyond First Aid

Injuries such as a loss of consciousness or fractures are almost always reported immediately due to the severity of these injuries. Unfortunately, employees are often not aware that less-severe injuries that do not result in time out of work, or even that do not result in a workers compensation claim, can still be a recordable injury.

For more common, less severe injuries, recordability, as defined by OSHA, depends on the medical care provided to the employee following the injury. If an employee only receives first aid as defined by OSHA, then the injury is not recordable.

Common Examples of First Aid as Defined by OSHA

  • Using non-prescription medicine at non-prescription strength
  • Cleaning a wound
  • Using bandages
  • Using hot or cold therapy

For a full list of what is considered first aid treatment, review 29 CFR 1904.7(b)(5)(ii).

A Real-World Example of Recordable and Not Recordable Injury

Let’s look at a quick example of an employee getting a small cut on his finger. The employee decides not to report the injury and wipes the blood off on his dirty pants to continue on with his work. Three days later, the finger is extremely swollen and infected. The employee is put on antibiotics by the plant doctor. This is a RECORDABLE injury due to the employee receiving medical treatment beyond first aid.

Let’s now pretend that the employee decided to alert his supervisor of the injury immediately and is taken to the same plant doctor. The doctor only needs to wash out the wound and apply a bandage. This is first aid as defined by OSHA, so it is NOT A RECORDABLE injury.

Enough of these small injuries unnecessarily developing into recordable injuries can make the difference in whether a company can bid on a $100 million job or not.


It is vital to realize that by not reporting an injury, you are not only potentially harming yourself, but you can also be harming the business as a whole. Every employee at a company depends on each other to complete their work to the best of their ability each day so that tomorrow there is a job to come back to. Working safely and reporting injuries is a part of everyone’s job.

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