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Recordkeeping 101: Part 8, A guide for keeping an accurate OSHA log

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 for previous installments.

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.

Educate yourself
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.
  • 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.
Organize your records
  • Use an electronic version of the log; federal OSHA provides an Excel version on its Web site at 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.
Include only recordable cases
  • 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: Part 1).
  • 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 January.
Each case receives only one case type
  • 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.
Count calendar days
  • 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.
Provide a thorough description of each case
  • 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 was affected.
  • If necessary, use more than one row of the paper version of the log when recording a description.
Classify each case as an injury or an illness.
  • 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.
Use the log
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
Online Resources
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
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