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Record retention
  • In most cases, employers must retain exposure records for at least 30 years, and employee medical records for the duration of employment plus 30 years.

Employers must preserve and maintain accurate medical and exposure records for employees. Section 1910.1020 applies to any medical or exposure records created in compliance with other the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules or at the employer’s own volition.

OSHA does not mandate the form, manner, or process for preserving records, except that chest X-ray films must be preserved in their original state.

Keep exposure records and data analyses based on them for at least 30 years, except that:

  • Background data related to environmental, or workplace, monitoring or measuring (such as laboratory reports and worksheets) must only be retained for one year, so long as the employer preserves certain interpretive documents relevant to the interpretation of the data for 30 years.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and other specified records concerning the identity of a substance or agent need not be retained, so long as the employer keeps some record of the identity, preferably the chemical name and information on when and where it was used, for 30 years.
  • Biological monitoring results designated as exposure records by specific OSHA standards must be preserved and maintained as required by the specific standard governing their use.
  • Analyses using medical or exposure records must be retained for at least 30 years.

Keep medical records for at least the duration of employment plus 30 years, except for:

  • Health insurance claims records maintained separately from the medical program and its records.
  • First-aid records made onsite by a non-physician of one-time treatment and later observations of minor scratches, scrapes, or other injuries that did not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, or transfer to another job.
  • Medical records of employees who have worked for less than one year, as long as the employer offers all such records to the employee upon termination of employment.

Note: OSHA says that COVID-19 temperature checks and similar pre-screening activities may trigger the “medical record” requirement. However, OSHA Publication 4045-06 2020 notes that temperature records do not qualify as medical records “unless they are made or maintained by a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel, or technician.”