Minnesota Cities Magazine

Letter of the Law: Medical Records—OSHA 300 and Beyond

By Cheryl Brennan

It’s that time of year again when the OSHA Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses gets posted. This is a summary of work-related individual injuries and illnesses recorded throughout 2013 on the OSHA Form 300.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as Minnesota OSHA (MN OSHA), requires that this summary be posted from Feb. 1 through April 30, 2014. Employers must post it in a visible location to inform employees of the injuries and illnesses occurring in their workplace. However, employers with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from OSHA Forms 300 and 300A requirements (see "Is Your City Exempt" at right for more information).

Sharps Injury Log
An OSHA sharps injury log chart In addition to the OSHA 300 series, your city may also need to comply with other OSHA medical record-keeping requirements. If your city or organization provides public safety or similar functions where employees are required to respond to medical emergencies, then you can assume they will be exposed to blood and potentially infectious body fluids. That means you must also maintain a Sharps Injury Log.

This log is used to record injuries (cuts, punctures, lacerations, scrapes, etc.) from sharp objects that are contaminated by blood or other potentially infectious body fluids. These sharp objects include such things as medical instruments as well as metal or glass from an accident scene.

According to OSHA 1910.1030(h)(5)(i), employers must establish and maintain a sharps injury log for the recording of percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps. The information in the sharps injury log should be recorded and maintained in such manner as to protect the confidentiality of the injured employee. The sharps injury log must contain, at a minimum:

  • The type and brand of device involved in the incident.
  • The department or work area where the exposure incident occurred.
  • An explanation of how the incident occurred. The requirement to establish and maintain a sharps injury log applies to any employer that is required to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses under Title 29, part 1904 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Medical surveillance records
Another type of medical record is commonly referred to as medical surveillance records. Most cities and special districts—such as fire districts or joint powers police departments—need to keep these records as well.

Examples include audiograms (hearing tests) and medical evaluations for respirator use. In some rare instances, such as with the operation of a municipal gun range, blood testing for lead may also be required depending on the exposure level. There is no small employer exemption for these records.

Privacy and retention
It is important to understand that medical records must remain private. According to the Minnesota Information and Policy Analysis Division, only relevant records on each employee should be retained in the personnel file. Certain records, including medical records, should not be retained in employee personnel files.

OSHA also outlines retention requirements in Title 29, part 1910.1020 of the Code of Federal Regulations. It requires the medical record for each employee to be preserved and maintained for at least the duration of employment plus 30 years. One exception to this is that hearing tests must be retained only for the duration of employment.

For more information, visit the MN OSHA website at www.doli.state.mn.us/OSHA/Recordkeeping.asp or contact MN OSHA at (651) 284-5060.

Cheryl Brennan is loss control field service manager with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.
Contact: cbrennan@lmc.org or (651) 215-4079.

Read the January-February 2014 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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