Source of Injury or Illness

Last Updated: May 23, 2018

Definition - What does Source of Injury or Illness mean?

The source of injury or illness is a term used to designate the cause of a worker's injury or illness. The source of an injury or illness may be a physical object, a substance to which the employee was exposed, or another factor.

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that injuries or illnesses that are deemed to work-related and meet other necessary criteria must be recorded and reported to government authorities upon request. For record-keeping purposes, an injury or illness is presumed to be work-related if the condition is caused by an event or exposure that took place on the worksite.

WorkplaceTesting explains Source of Injury or Illness

In addition to recordkeeping, identifying the source of an injury or illness in the workplace is a key tool for maintaining a safe workplace. Determining the source of an injury or illness can aid investigators in identifying the root cause of the incident or detect an ongoing safety hazard. Once each factor contributing to an injury or illness has been identified, steps can be taken to prevent subsequent harm.

When evaluating the cause of a workplace injury or illness, investigators will seek to identify both the source and the event or exposure which produced the condition. For example, if a worker is harmed by a chlorine gas leak at work, the source of the injury would be the gas and the event would be the equipment failure or pipe damage which resulted in a leak. An employee with a chronic respiratory illness may have acquired the condition from exposure to airborne contaminants. In this case, the source of the illness would be the contaminants but the event would be the long-term exposure to those contaminants.

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