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Finally, the injury and illness records required by the OSHA recordkeeping rule are the source of the BLS-generated national statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as on the source, nature, and type of these injuries and illnesses. To obtain the data to develop national statistics, the BLS and participating State agencies conduct an annual survey of employers in almost all sectors of private industry. The BLS makes the aggregate survey results available both for research purposes and for public information. The BLS has published occupational safety and health statistics since 1971. These statistics chart the magnitude and nature of the occupational injury and illness problem across the country. Congress, OSHA, and safety and health policy makers in Federal, State and local governments use the BLS statistics to make decisions concerning safety and health legislation, programs, and standards. Employers and employees use them to compare their own injury and illness experience with the performance of other establishments within their industry and in other industries.
The theory of causation OSHA should require employers to use in determining the work-relationship of injuries and illnesses was perhaps the most important issue raised in this rulemaking. Put simply, the issue is essentially whether OSHA should view cases as being work-related under a "geographic" or "positional" theory of causation, or should adopt a more restrictive test requiring that the occupational cause be quantified as "predominant," or "significant," or that the injury or illness result from activities uniquely occupational in nature. This issue generated substantial comment during this rulemaking, and the Agency's evaluation of the various alternative tests, and its decision to continue its historic test, are discussed below.
Currently, the Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses reports distributional data for the number of days away from work and the median number of days away from work for demographic (age, sex, race, industry, and occupation) and injury/ illness (nature, part of body, source, and event) characteristics. The largest category of days away from work reported by the BLS for days away from work is "31 days or more." In 1992, the Annual Survey reported median days away from work that ranged from 1 day to 236 days [U.S. Department of Labor 1995]. For most demographic and injury/illness categories, capping the count of days away from work at 180 days will not alter the values for either the percent of injuries in the "31 days or more" category or median days away from work.
OSHA believes that cleaning, flushing or soaking of wounds on the skin surface is the initial emergency treatment for almost all surface wounds and that these procedures do not rise to the level of medical treatment. This relatively simple type of treatment does not require technology, training, or even a visit to a health care professional. More serious wounds will be captured as recordable cases because they will meet other recording criteria, such as prescription medications, sutures, restricted work, or days away from work. Therefore, OSHA has included cleaning, flushing or soaking of wounds on the skin surface as an item on the first aid list. As stated previously, OSHA does not believe that multiple applications of first aid should constitute medical treatment; it is the nature of the treatment, not how many times it is applied, that determines whether it is first aid or medical treatment. 2b1af7f3a8