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When looking at what records need to be retained, this standard is very complex. One questionable area of concern is workers’ compensation records. Workers’ compensation records may be covered under this standard if the treatment received was the result of exposure to a toxic substance or harmful physical agent. When the only exposure is to a safety hazard such as tripping, falling, cuts, etc., the workers’ compensation record is not covered under this standard. Therefore some, but not all, workers’ compensation records fall under the requirements of 1910.1020.

Another interesting aspect of this standard is that any employer who can demonstrate that a toxic substance or harmful physical agent is or was used, handled, stored, generated, or present in the workplace in a manner typical of non-occupational situations, they would not be required to fulfill the regulatory retention obligations for those substances.

One example of a chemical substance that would fall under this category is hand washing liquid used by employees after using the restroom. Since it is a common practice to wash one’s hands after using the restroom, this exposure would be typical of non-occupational situations. A reverse example is when a sanitation employee is required to use a cleaning chemical such as ammonia or bleach throughout an eight-hour shift, five days of the week.

This manner of use is not typical of the usual weekly cleaning done by a homemaker in the typical home and records such as a chemical inventory list or an SDS would be required. The term record means any item, collection, or grouping of information regardless of the process used to form the record. A paper document, microfiche, digital file, microfilm, x-ray film or automated data processing are forms of records.


Get more information about the Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records course here.