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Is it work-related?
Determining whether an injury or illness is
work-related is not always easy. If a staff member is injured or becomes ill
because of a job activity or exposure, they are entitled to certain protections
under the OSH Act and most state Workers’ Compensation regulations. However,
misclassifying an injury or illness as work-related when it isn’t causes
increased insurance rates and faulty workplace statistics.
Under OSHA’s new recordkeeping rule, an injury or illness must be considered
to be work-related if “an event or exposure in the work environment either
caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a
pre-existing injury or illness.” Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and
illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring on the practice property,
unless one of these exceptions apply:
- At the time of the injury or illness, the staff member 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,
- The injury or illness is solely the result of a staff member eating,
drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption (whether bought
on the practice premises or brought in). For example, if the staff member is
injured by choking on a sandwich while in the practice, the case would not be
Note: If the staff member is made ill by ingesting food contaminated by
workplace contaminants (such as lead), or gets food poisoning from food
supplied by the practice, the case would be considered work-related.
- The injury or illness is solely the result of a staff member doing
personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the establishment outside of
the their assigned working hours.
- The injury or illness is solely the result of
personal grooming, self medication for a non-work-related condition, or is
- The injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident AND occurs on
a practice parking lot or access road while the staff member 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 staff member is infected at work).
- The illness is a mental illness. Mental illness will not be considered
work-related unless the staff member voluntarily provides the practice 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 staff member has a mental illness
that is work-related.
If the incident or exposure happened off the practice property, the resulting
injury or illness is considered work-related if the staff member was “engaged in
work activities.” For instance, if the receptionist was making a bank deposit
for the practice and was injured in a traffic accident, the injury would be
work-related because the receptionist was “on company business” when the
incident happened -- even if he/she were driving their own private vehicle.
Understanding the “work relationship” of accidents and situations is the
first step to proper classification and subsequent control of workplace injuries
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The information on these pages is excerpted from
The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest and
The Complete Veterinary Practice Regulatory Compliance Manual (5th Edition)
by Philip J. Seibert, Jr., CVT,
Copyright 2003-2001 Philip J. Seibert, Jr., CVT All
No part of this publication may be reproduced for distribution without prior
permission from the publisher.