Is It Recordable?


Ever had an odd safety incident happen at your workplace and you have to stop and ask yourself, “is it recordable?”

Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses.  This information helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards to prevent future workplace injuries and illnesses.

Sounds like a plan, right?

Try your hand at these 3 different safety scenarios below.

First, test your safety prowess to know if these incidents are recordable.  Next, can you back up your answer with the why?

These scenarios are provided from the website inspired by actual incidents (and some are completely fictional) however, all answers are based on OSHA recordkeeping guidelines.

Responding to After-Hours Emergency

A safety manager receives a call at 1:30a regarding a serious injury that occurred to an employee during the night shift. The safety manager is required by his job responsibilities to drive to the hospital from his home to begin an investigation. On the way to the hospital, the groggy safety manager’s company cell phone rings and as he reaches over to grab his cell phone he veers off of the road and rolls his vehicle into a ditch. He breaks some ribs and needs stitches as a result of the accident. Is it recordable?

YES. Although typically the commute from the home to work is considered an excepted activity, when the employee is driving as a condition of employment from home to a work environment outside of the normal commute, any injuries that occur are considered work-related.

Letter of Interpretation: “…an accident during a commute is work-related where the mode of travel is a condition of employment.”

Fingers Slammed in Car Door

An employee pulls into the company parking lot at the start of the day. They exit their vehicle and lean against the truck door frame as they put on their work boots. A wind gust slams the truck’s door on their hand and breaks two bones. Is it recordable?

YES. At the time of the injury, the commute had ended. The commute is an exception to recordkeeping but the commute technically ends as soon as the employee sets foot within the work environment after exiting their commuting vehicle. The parking lot was maintained by the company and therefore is considered the work environment and any injuries that occur after the commute ends are presumed work-related.

Letter of Interpretation: OSHA has made it clear that injuries and illnesses that occur during an employee’s normal commute to and from work are not considered work-related, and therefore not recordable. See, 66 Federal Register 5960. For purposes of OSHA recordkeeping, the employee’s commute from home to work ends once he or she arrives at the work environment or when he or she starts traveling “in the interest of the employer.” Additionally, Section 1904.46 provides that company parking lots and company access roads are included within the definition of “establishment.”

Mysterious Allergic Reaction

An employee working as a janitor in a laboratory facility suddenly falls ill. His doctor believes it is an allergic reaction to something in the work environment. There are no known exposures despite air sampling and a thorough investigation. Is it recordable?

YES. Even though it is not clear what caused the reaction, due to OSHA’s presumption of work-relatedness, the injury must be presumed to be caused by work because it happened in the work environment. Further, the doctor’s opinion is that it was caused by the work environment. It is also possible that the employee became sensitized to a chemical at work, such as a cleaning agent, that has not affected the employee previously.

1904.5(a):Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in §1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies.

​Want to try your hand at more safety scenarios?  Maybe submit one of your own?
Visit for over a hundred different Q&As.

Many thanks to Nathan Braymen (aka Redbeard), founder and author of the Is It Recordable website.  View his bio and site mission here.


Check out more blog posts on our site:  Which Safety Leading IndicatorsImprove Site Safety Performance?


  1. Is it a recordable if a worker is done their shift, driving home and hits a deer on the highway? What if the worker is being paid for the drive time in a personal vehicle or using a company vehicle?

    1. Hi Jesse,
      Thanks so much for the question. Here is some information from our friend and author of to help you with your answer:

      So, outside of normal working hours, as soon as the employee leaves the work environment to travel home, that is considered a normal commute and the commute is excepted from OSHA recordkeeping, meaning any injuries that occur during the commute are not considered work-related and therefore not recordable.

      If the employee is being paid or not paid at that time has no bearing on the commuting exception. In fact, OSHA recordkeeping is unaffected if an employee is on or off the clock. It uses alternative factors for recordkeeping purposes.

      I’d like to encourage and welcome everyone to submit recordkeeping questions at!

      Here’s a scenario at that addresses the commute:

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