OARS - Work Related - For Supervisors

Even if not recordable, Supervisor should make certain an OARS report is completed. These issues are related to OSHA recordable incidents, not worker's compensation coverage.


Are there situations where an injury or illness occurs in the work environment and is not considered work-related?

Yes, an injury or illness occurring in the work environment that falls under one of the following exceptions is not work-related, and therefore is not recordable as an injury or illness.

YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECORD INJURIES AND ILLNESSES IF . ..

  • At the time of the injury or illness, the employee was present in the work environment as a member of the general public rather than as an employee.
  • The injury or illness involves signs or symptoms that surface at work but result solely from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurs outside the work environment.
  • The injury or illness results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness, or recreational activity such as blood donation, physical examination, flu shot, exercise class, racquetball, or baseball.
  • The injury or illness is solely the result of an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption (whether bought on the University premises or brought in). For example, if the employee were injured by choking on a sandwich while in the University's establishment, the case would not be considered work-related.

    Note: If the employee is made ill by ingesting food contaminated by workplace contaminants (such as lead), or gets food poisoning from food supplied by the employer, the case would be considered work-related.

  • The injury or illness is solely the result of an employee doing personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the University outside of the employee's assigned working hours.
  • The injury or illness is solely the result of personal grooming, self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or is intentionally self-inflicted.
  • The injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident and occurs on a company parking lot or company access road while the employee is commuting to or from work.
  • The illness is the common cold or flu (Note: contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, hepatitis A, or plague are considered work-related if the employee is infected at work).
  • The illness is a mental illness. Mental illness will not be considered work-related unless the employee voluntarily provides the University with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health care professional with appropriate training and experience (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, etc.) stating that the employee has a mental illness that is work-related.

How do I handle a case if it is not obvious whether the precipitating event or exposure occurred in the work environment or occurred away from work?

In these situations, you must evaluate the employee's work duties and environment to decide whether or not one or more events or exposures in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. Contact EH&S for assistance, injury@uw.edu or (206)543-7388.


How do I know if an event or exposure in the work environment "significantly aggravated" a preexisting injury or illness?

A preexisting injury or illness has been significantly aggravated, for purposes of OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping, when an event or exposure in the work environment results in any of the following:

  • Death, provided that the preexisting injury or illness would likely not have resulted in death but for the occupational event or exposure.
  • Loss of consciousness provided that the preexisting injury or illness would likely not have resulted in loss of consciousness but for the occupational event or exposure.
  • One or more days away from work, or days of restricted work, or days of job transfer that otherwise would not have occurred but for the occupational event or exposure.
  • Medical treatment in a case where no medical treatment was needed for the injury or illness before the workplace event or exposure, or a change in medical treatment was necessitated by the workplace event or exposure.

Which injuries and illnesses are considered pre-existing conditions?

An injury or illness is a preexisting condition if it resulted solely from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurred outside the work environment.


How does a supervisor decide whether an injury or illness is work-related if the employee is on travel status at the time the injury or illness occurs?

Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities "in the interest of the employer." Examples of such activities include travel to and from customer contacts, conducting job tasks, and entertaining or being entertained to transact, discuss, or promote business (work-related entertainment includes only entertainment activities being engaged in at the direction of the employer).

Injuries or illnesses that occur when the employee is on travel status do not have to be recorded if they meet one of the exceptions listed below.

  • If the employee has checked into a hotel or motel for one or more days.

    When a traveling employee checks into a hotel, motel, or into a other temporary residence, he or she establishes a "home away from home." You must evaluate the employee's activities after he or she checks into the hotel, motel, or other temporary residence for their work-relatedness in the same manner as you evaluate the activities of a non-traveling employee. When the employee checks into the temporary residence, he or she is considered to have left the work environment. When the employee begins work each day, he or she re-enters the work environment. If the employee has established a "home away from home" and is reporting to a fixed worksite each day, you also do not consider injuries or illnesses work-related if they occur while the employee is commuting between the temporary residence and the job location.

  • If the employee has taken a detour for personal reasons.

    Injuries or illnesses are not considered work-related if they occur while the employee is on a personal detour from a reasonably direct route of travel (e.g., has taken a side trip for personal reasons).

  • Note: Risk Management and EH&S can help with this determination.


How do I decide if a case is work-related when the employee is working at home?

Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office, will be considered work-related if the injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting. For example, if an employee drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is considered work-related. If an employee's fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical treatment, the injury is considered work-related. If an employee is injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related. If an employee working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.


If a facilities services employee is cleaning the parking lot or an access road and is injured as a result, is the case work-related?

Yes, the case is work-related because the employee is injured as a result of conducting University business in the work environment.


What activities are considered "personal grooming" for purposes of the exception to the presumption of work-relatedness?

Personal grooming activities are activities directly related to personal hygiene, such as combing and drying hair, brushing teeth, clipping fingernails and the like are not work related.

Bathing or showering at the workplace when necessary because of an exposure to a substance at work is considered work related. Thus, if an employee slips and falls while showering at work to remove a contaminant to which he has been exposed at work, and sustains an injury, it is work related.


What are "assigned working hours" for purposes of whether or not the injury or illness is work-related?

"Assigned working hours," means those hours the employee is actually expected to work, including overtime.


What are "personal tasks" for purposes of whether or not the injury or illness is work related?

"Personal tasks" are tasks that are unrelated to the employee's job. For example, if an employee uses the company break area to work on his child's science project, he is engaged in a personal task and it is not work related.


If an employee stays at work after normal work hours to prepare for the next day's tasks and is injured, is the case work-related? For example, if an employee stays after work to prepare air-sampling pumps and is injured, is the case work-related?

A case is work-related any time an event or exposure in the work environment either causes or contributes to an injury or illness or significantly aggravates a pre-existing injury or illness, unless one of the exceptions applies (see FAQ "Are there situations where an injury or illness occurs in the work environment and is not considered work-related?"). The work environment includes the University and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The case in question would be work-related if the employee were injured as a result of an event or exposure at work, regardless of whether the injury occurred after normal work hours.


If an employee voluntarily takes work home and is injured while working at home, is the case work-related?

No. Injuries and illnesses occurring in the home environment are only considered work-related if the employee is being paid or compensated for working at home and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of the work rather than to the general home environment.


If an employee's pre-existing medical condition causes an incident, which results in a subsequent injury, is the case work-related? For example, if an employee suffers an epileptic seizure, falls, and breaks his arm, is the case work related?

Neither the seizures nor the broken arm are recordable as a work related injury or illness. Injuries and illnesses that result solely from non-work-related events or exposures are not recordable an injury or illness. Epileptic seizures are a symptom of a disease of non-occupational origin, and the fact that they occur at work does not make them work-related. Because epileptic seizures are not work-related, injuries resulting solely from the seizures, such as the broken arm in the case in question, are not recordable as an injury or illness.


This question involves the following sequence of events: Employee A drives to work, parks her car in the company parking lot and is walking across the lot when she is struck by a car driven by employee B, who is commuting to work. Both employees are seriously injured in the accident. Is either case work-related?

Neither employee's injuries are recordable as an injury or illness. While the employee parking lot is part of the work environment, injuries occurring there are not work-related if they meet the exceptions noted in FAQ "Are there situations where an injury or illness occurs in the work environment and is not considered work-related?"

Exceptions to injuries or illnesses caused by motor vehicle accidents occurring on the company parking lot while the employee is commuting to and from work is noted in that FAQ. In the case in question, both employees' injuries resulted from a motor vehicle accident in the company parking lot while the employees were commuting. Accordingly, the exception applies.


Is every work-related injury or illness case involving a loss of consciousness reportable?

Yes, you must record a work-related injury or illness if the worker becomes unconscious, regardless of the length of time the employee remains unconscious.