Workplace injuries and incidents occur every day across the country. Accurately reporting these incidents and recording them, in accordance with OSHA guidelines and the guidelines set forth by the state of California, is imperative in many workers’ compensation cases regarding compensable injuries.

What are compensable consequences of work injuries?

Recordable Workplace Injuries vs. Reportable Workplace Injuries

Recording injuries is the tracking of work-related illnesses and injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) requires organizations to keep strict logs and records of on-the-job injuries, but there are circumstances when a workplace injury is not required to be recorded, according to OSHA. Also, it is important to know that workers’ compensation is not contingent on the eligibility of an injury to be recordable or reportable under Cal/OSHA workplace injury guidelines, but it can influence a claim.

Reporting, on the other hand, is notifying OSHA regarding work-related injuries. Different types of incidents require different timeframes for which reporting is required. OSHA requires companies with at least 11 employees to maintain these records with OSHA. California operates under the California State Plan through the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), which has requirements identical to OSHA’s. State plan standards have also adopted additional and unique standards separate from OSHA’s. These additional protections for workers include the following standards and incidents for recordable injuries:

  • Aerosol transmissible diseases
  • Agriculture
  • Child labor
  • Heat exposure and noise exposure (related to petroleum drilling and production of petroleum refining, transporting, and handling)
  • Injury and illness prevention
  • Toxic chemical exposure and handling
  • Workplace violence prevention in healthcare

Within these categories, as well as those regulated by OSHA and California, work-related incidents are required to be recorded if they result in any of the following outcomes:

  • Cancer diagnosis or irreversible chronic disease
  • Fatality
  • Fractured bones
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Missed work
  • Punctured eardrum
  • Restricted or limited work activity or position transfer

All work-related injuries must be reported to or recorded by either the state or OSHA, according to the requirements for recording and reporting with each entity. The California Department of Industrial Relations defines which incidents employers should record regarding work-related injuries. Furthermore, California employers must record work-related injuries that involve any of the following incidents:

  • Any injury resulting from a contaminated needlestick or sharp object that has someone else’s blood on it or some other potentially infectious substance
  • Any case that requires the worker to be medically taken out of the workplace under Cal/OSHA standard health practices
  • Any case that involves a diagnosis of tuberculosis via a physician-administered positive skin test

Additionally, an employee’s hearing loss must be reported if:

  • An employee’s hearing test shows that they have experienced hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • There is a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in their hearing in one or both ears.
  • In the same ear as the STS, the full hearing level is more than 25 decibels above audiometric zero.

What Events, Incidents, or Injuries Are Not Required to Be Reported Under OSHA Regulations?

Some injuries occur in the work environment that are not considered to be work-related, and therefore, they are not recordable. The following injuries and illnesses that meet the criteria below are not required to be recorded:

  • The injury occurred during a time when the employee was in the work environment, but they were there as a member of the general public and not as an employee.
  • Symptoms of an injury or illness surfaced while the employee was at work, but they are solely related to events or exposures that occurred outside of work and not in the work environment.
  • The injury or illness is the sole result of the voluntary participation of the employee in a wellness program or fitness activity, such as a blood donation, a flu shot, or an exercise class.
  • The injury or illness was the result of the employee’s participation in personal tasks unrelated to their employment while at the workplace but outside of the employee’s established working hours.
  • The employee’s injury or illness was self-inflicted intentionally or accidentally due to the result of self-medication or personal grooming.
  • The injury or illness of the employee was the result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on company property while the employee was commuting to or from the place of employment.
  • The condition is the result of the common cold or flu-related injuries that are not from a contagious disease.
  • An employee’s mental illness is not considered work-related unless the employee voluntarily provides a diagnosis from a licensed healthcare professional stating that the employee’s mental illness is directly work-related.


Q: What Are the Criteria for Recordable Injuries?

A: A recordable injury is one that involves:

  • The death of an employee
  • Days away from work that an employee is unable to work
  • The event in which an employee loses consciousness
  • Any incident that requires the medical treatment of an employee outside of first aid
  • Any injury that necessitates a job transfer for the employee or limits their ability to perform their job activities

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Recordable Injury and a Reportable Injury?

A: Recordable injuries are those injuries that are recorded for the purpose of tracking workplace illnesses and injuries. Recordable events generally involve exposure or injuries in the workplace that contribute to or cause a resulting injury or condition during work hours. Reportable injuries, on the other hand, include a number of incidents that must be reported to OSHA as specifically outlined under the OSHA guidelines. Failure to report incidents and injuries according to OSHA guidelines will result in non-compliance. When unknown, it’s always wise to ask an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Q: What Is Not a Covered Injury Under Workers’ Compensation?

A: An injury will not be covered under workers’ compensation if the injury:

  • Did not occur at the workplace
  • Was not work-related
  • Involved any horseplay
  • Involved an act of violence
  • Was the fault of the employee
  • Only required first aid for treatment
  • Was a self-inflicted injury
  • Was an intentional suicide death

Q: Can an Injury Be Recordable but Not Compensable?

A: Yes, Cal/OSHA states that an injury can be recordable but not compensable. One example of this would be if medical treatment was administered to an employee following a work-related incident, but it was later determined that medical treatment was unnecessary. Another would be if the treatment plan or prognosis later changed, and the injury no longer required medical treatment.

Contact English Lloyd & Armenta

You may have questions about your workplace injury or an injury that you suffered that was work-related. It may have been improperly recorded or reported, or you’re unsure of how to record or report an incident, English Lloyd & Armenta is available to assist you with these matters. Contact English Lloyd & Armenta to discuss your work-related injury. We can help you determine whether your injury is compensable according to state and OSHA guidelines.