Is it work-related?
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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, or baseball.
  • 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 considered work-related.

    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 intentionally self-inflicted.
  • 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 and illnesses.

Click here for downloadable copies of the new forms.

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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 Rights Reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced for distribution without prior permission from the publisher.


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This page was last updated on 01/24/14.

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