1:27 am July 9, 2019

New OSHA Guideline for Recordkeeping
Soft Tissue Massage Confirmed as First Aid

Source: Jeff Paddock

In light of the current opioid crisis and the continued prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace, more and more employers are turning to onsite physical therapists as an alternative to help employees do their jobs comfortably and recover more quickly from minor aches and pains.  With physical therapists now being recognized as an increasingly popular solution for injury prevention programs, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) made a formal request to OSHA asking for clarification regarding what kinds of soft tissue massage techniques are considered first aid for recordkeeping purposes.

On May 23, 2019, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation to the APTA. The letter clarifies that:

  • Soft tissue massage is first aid for record-keeping purposes.
  • First aid treatments listed in section 1904.7(b)(5)(ii), including soft tissue massage, would be considered first aid regardless of the professional status or certifications of the person providing the treatment.

Though it may seem minor on the surface, OSHA has responded with a very important clarification.  A work-related soft tissue injury or illness would only be considered recordable if there was medical treatment beyond first aid. Soft tissue massage provided by a physical therapist is considered first aid care, not medical treatment.  This is a huge win for employers, employees and the physical therapists that help them stay pain-free on (and off) the job.  As was noted by the APTA, this is yet “another affirmation that PTs play a valuable role in workplace health and safety, and can be an important part of employer prevention and wellness teams.”

For more information on how to integrate soft tissue massage into your program, contact WorkWell today.

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