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Medical Records: Employee Rights & Employer Responsibilities

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 31, 2009 10:29:43 AM

What You Should Know About Access to Your Employment Medical Records

Paula Kaufmann - CIH

A friend recently told me that he might be developing an allergy to his office. We laughed about being allergic to work, but since he knows that I am in an industrial hygienist, he was serious about getting my opinion. He asked my thoughts about the source of his allergy. I suggested that he should see if anything new was introduced to his workspace over the winter.

Types of Mold Growth in An Office

It turns out that his cubicle was located by a wall covered with mold and mildew. This growth had also moved onto his paper files, cubicle and desk surfaces. His employer cleaned up the area and requested laboratory testing of the mold. He doesn’t know the extent of the remediation, but he still is not feeling well.

At the request of his doctor, my friend asked his management for copies of the records of the remediation including what type of mold was found. Management’s reply was that the information was included in company records and could not be released. He asked me if he should insist that his employer provide him with the type of mold that was present - he didn’t realize that he had a legal right to this information under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

[caption id="attachment_319" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Mold Growth"]pa180027[/caption]

At the request of an employee, an employer is required by OSHA to provide the employee with “Environmental (workplace) monitoring or measuring of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent, including personal, area, grab, wipe, or other form of sampling, as well as related collection and analytical methodologies, calculations, and other background data relevant to interpretation of the results obtained …;” Employers must inform employees of the existence, location and availability of your medical and exposure records when you first begin employment and at least annually thereafter. Employers also must provide these records to an employee or their designated representatives within 15 working days of an employee’s request.

Faced with similar situations, it might be assumed that many people would not know the correct actions to take. To be precise, an employee should make a written request for all information related to the collection and analytical methodologies, calculations, and other background data relevant to interpretation of the results and conclusions from any environmental monitoring or measurements. In this letter to the employer, the employee should state --- As required by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standard “Access to employee exposure and medical records. - 1910.1020 “ in section 1910.20(e)(3)(ii ), I anticipate that these records will be available to me for examination and photocopying within 15 working days of this formal request”.

Here is a good summary of the standard

Here is an outline of employee’s rights under OSHA

Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Compliance, Occupational Health, Mold, Fire Safety, Medical Records

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