Federal agencies Recordkeeping

OSHA answers: When is a fatal motor vehicle crash recordable?


Photo: THEPALMER/gettyimages

Washington — A recent letter of interpretation from OSHA clarifies whether a fatal motor vehicle incident involving an employee would be considered work-related.

In the June 12 letter, OSHA describes a real-world scenario in which a worker drove about 300 miles to visit a customer and stayed at a hotel for several days. Afterward, he went to see a relative and stayed at another hotel. On his return trip home, he used the same route he would have taken if traveling from the customer site back to his residence. On the way, his car slid on an icy road, resulting in a fatal crash. 

Is this incident recordable?

Yes, writes Lee Anne Jillings, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management.

The trip isn’t considered a “normal commute,” according to the agency, because the worker traveled outside his usual geographic area and was “in the process of traveling home from a work assignment.”

The trip home also isn’t considered a “personal detour from the route of business travel,” as outlined in OSHA’s regulations on determining work-relatedness (1904.5). 

Had the fatal crash occurred while the worker was traveling from the customer’s site to his hotel or vice versa, that would meet one of the exceptions to work-relatedness because it was a commute to and from “a home away from home.”

However, had the worker died while driving outside of the “reasonably direct route of travel (e.g., a sightseeing trip), that wouldn’t be recordable.

“In your scenario, at the time of the fatal accident, the employee was traveling on the same route he would have taken had he traveled directly from the customer’s site back to his home,” Jillings writes. “As a result, when the accident occurred, the employee was traveling ‘in the interest of the employer’ and the case must be recorded on the OSHA 300 log.”

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