By Brian Zaidman, Research Analyst, Research and Statistics, Minnesota Department of
Labor & Industry Reprinted from "Safety Lines: The Newsletter of Minnesota OSHA," Fall 2006.
Editor's note: This is the eighth installment of a series about using the OSHA Form 300 and summarizing its results. This
information is directed to people who are new to OSHA recordkeeping activities, who are unfamiliar with the 2002 recordkeeping
changes or who want to review their recordkeeping practices. Visit www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/MO/articles.cfm for previous
The OSHA recordkeeping system puts a ready-to-use performance measurement tool for workplace safety into the hands of every
business. Thanks to the OSHA log (OSHA Form 300), every business has a system for accurately recording and measuring an important
aspect of workplace safety: the number of injuries and illnesses among its workers. The OSHA log serves as the official record of work-related
injuries and illnesses for a work establishment. All employees, former employees, their personal representatives and their collective bargaining agents
can review the log. In Minnesota, all employers with more than 10 employees must comply with the recordkeeping requirements, regardless of their industry.
The Recordkeeping 101 series has presented a
wide range of issues involved in creating and using your OSHA log:
part one – deciding what injury and illness cases to include in the log;
part two – classifying cases into case types;
part three – counting the days away from work and days of job transfer or restriction;
part four – describing injury and illness events;
part five – classifying cases as either injuries or illnesses;
part six – creating the annual log summary; and
part seven – using the log summary to track your company’s performance.
In this installment, the conclusion of the series, we review some key points for creating and maintaining
an accurate OSHA log. Improving your ability to measure workplace safety improves your ability to
manage workplace safety.
The best way to improve your recordkeeping skills is to spend a few minutes becoming familiar with the
recordkeeping system when you’re not under pressure to record a case or prepare an annual summary.
Educate others in your workplace
Recordkeeping knowledge is an important skill. After learning how to maintain the log and create the
annual summary, teach others how to do it. When workers who have learned the OSHA log system
change jobs, their replacements often have to start from scratch. The following ideas can help a
replacement hit the ground running.
Organize your records
- Keep copies of important recordkeeping-related documents.
- Train a coworker, safety committee members or your supervisor about the basics of recordkeeping.
It helps to have someone appreciate the work that is involved. This also gives you someone to work
with when questions arise.
- Take notes about what you do and how you do it.
Include only recordable cases
- Use an electronic version of the log; federal OSHA provides an Excel version on its Web site at
www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/new-osha300form1-1-04.xls. This will help keep your information
organized and legible, and provides more room for text.
- Good records organization will help you when you train others. It also shows your business is
serious about occupational safety and health.
- A well-kept, legible log makes it easy to prepare the annual summary.
- The log must be kept available for five years after the year of the cases, so there’s a high likelihood
that other people will be looking at the log.
Each case receives only one case type
- The basic recordkeeping requirement is to record all work-related injuries and illnesses that result
in death, loss of consciousness, medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work,
restriction of work or transfer to another job.
- The log should include only those cases meeting the recordability criteria. Many workplace
incidents may look like recordable injuries, but don’t meet the criteria. For example, a work-related
rash that can be treated with a nonprescription ointment and that does not result in any job
restrictions or time away from work is not a recordable case.
- Medical treatment is any treatment not included on OSHA’s first aid list (see Recordkeeping 101:
- Record a case only in the year in which the injury or illness first occurred. If a December injury
results in days away from work the following January, the case is recorded in December, not
Count calendar days
- Each recordable case must be classified according to the most serious outcome for that case. Only
one classification is permitted.
- The order of case seriousness is: death, days away from work, job transfer or restriction, and other
recordable cases. A nonfatal case with only one day away from work must be classifi ed as a days
away from work case, even if the injury also results in 150 days of job restriction.
Provide a thorough description of each case
- For cases with days away from work and days of job transfer or restriction, count calendar days, not
just scheduled workdays or days the business is open.
- Begin counting days on the day after the injury occurred or the illness began.
- Continue counting days even into the next year. However, record your count on the log for the year
the injury or illness first occurred.
- If a case with days away from work also has days of job transfer or restriction, count each type
separately and enter each duration in the appropriate column on the log.
Classify each case as an injury or an illness.
- Descriptions should provide specific information that safety directors and safety committee
members can use to improve workplace safety.
- Describe the worker’s activity, what happened, the part of the body that was affected and how it
- If necessary, use more than one row of the paper version of the log when recording a description.
Use the log
- Each recordable case must have a check in only one of the columns, M1 through M6. Check the
category that best fits the circumstances of the case.
- Most recordable cases are injuries. In general, injuries result from instantaneous events or
exposures in the work environment.
The OSHA log is a tool to help employers manage workplace safety and health. Keeping an accurate log
is only the start of the process.
- Every establishment required to keep a log must create an annual summary and post the summary
in the workplace.
- Share the summary information with your company’s management and the safety committee.
- Use statistics about detailed case characteristics to understand the most common types of injuries
for your industry and for the occupations in your establishment.
- For help accessing or understanding the BLS survey results tables, contact the Department of Labor
and Industry's Research and Statistics unit by phone at (651) 285-5025 or by e-mail at
Federal OSHA recordkeeping resources
MNOSHA recordkeeping resources
MNOSHA WSC recordkeeping training
Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
Packet of recordkeeping forms, instructions
Booklet: Minnesota OSHA recordkeeping requirement