OSHA has recently issued an interpretation letter regarding injury and illness reporting when employees are working from home following treatment for an occupational injury. The language that follows is lifted verbatim from the OSHA interpretive guidance letter.

An employee who performs office clerical work injures her knee in a work-related accident. She has out-patient surgery one month after the knee injury and is released by her doctor with the only restriction being: "May work at home." The company sets up a computer and forwards her business phone to the employee's house so she can work while recovering from surgery. The employee works from home, but does not work the full 8 hours during the workday. The employee was able to perform all of her routine job functions from home during this time.

Question: Should the days that the employee is performing clerical services for the company from her home be treated as restricted work activity or days-away-from work?

Answer: Section 1904.7(b)(1) provides that an employer must record a work-related injury or illness if it results in death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, or diagnoses of significant injury or illness by a physician or other licensed health care professional. Section 1904.7(b)(3) states that employers must record a work-related injury or illness that results in days away from work, and Section 1904.7(b)(4) provides that employers must record a work-related injury or illness that involves restricted work or job transfer. Section 1904.7(b)(4)(i) makes clear that "restricted work" occurs when the employer keeps the employee from performing one or more routine job functions of his or her job, or from working the full workday that he or she would otherwise have been scheduled to work.

Based on the information described in your letter and assuming that the employee does not work from home as part of her normal work schedule, the case should be recorded as days away from work. In your scenario, the employer has made the determination that the employee cannot work in the office, but allows her to work from home while she recovers from surgery. In other words, the employer has made a decision that the employee needs days away (from the office) in order to recover from a work-related injury.

However, the answer to your question would be different if the employee's normal work schedule includes one or more workdays at home. For example, if the employee described in your letter is normally scheduled to work from home two days (8-hour work days) per week, you would count the days worked at home as restricted work because the employee did not work the full 8-hour workday. See Section 1904.7(b)(4)(i)(A). Under such a scenario, the other three days of the week the employee is scheduled to work in the office would be recorded as days away from work.

Please click this link to see the complete OSHA interpretation letter. Employers must enter each recordable injury or illness on the OSHA 300 log within seven calendar days of receiving information that a recordable event has occurred.