Know Your OSHA!

Many employers dutifully draft written safety and health programs related to hazardous chemicals, blood-borne pathogens, fire prevention and evacuation, emergency action plans and more. Plus, they appropriately provide training on these programs.

Are employees missing something?

Unfortunately, many employers do not realize that they must maintain and preserve employee exposure and medical records AND provide employees access to these records.

Employees must be given information and training upon first entering into employment, and at least annually thereafter, on:
• their right of access to exposure and medical records
• the existence, location and availability of such records
• the person responsible for maintaining and providing access to such records

A copy of the standard (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1020) must be kept at the workplace and upon request, copies must be made available to employees.

What you need to know

Unless another OSHA standard requires a different time period, records must be retained as follows:
a. Employee medical records – These are records of an actual exposure incident. These records must be retained for the length of employment plus thirty (30) years. Note: Records of employees who have worked less than one year for the employer do not need to be retained if they are provided to the employee at the end of employment.
b. Employee exposure records and analyses using exposure and medical records – retained for thirty (30) years. These are things like superseded safety data sheets and workplace atmospheric tests.

What you should do?

A best practice is to have a written plan relevant to the medical records standard that spells out the organization’s policy and training regimen.