Many employers keep some type of medical records. These could be medical questionnaires, results of pre-employment physical examinations, results from blood tests or more elaborate records of ongoing diagnosis or treatment (such as all biological monitoring not defined as an employee exposure record). OSHA regulations that establish access rights to these records are found in 29 CFR 1910.1020: Access to Medical and Exposure Records.
Medical records are considerably more personal than exposure records or accident reports so the rules governing confidentiality and access to them are stricter. Employee medical records do not include a lot of employee medical information because of this extra scrutiny. A good rule of thumb is that if the information is maintained separately from the employer's medical program, it probably will not be accessible.
Examples of separately maintained medical information would be records of voluntary employee assistance programs (alcohol, drug abuse, or personal counseling programs), medical records concerning health insurance claims or records created solely in preparation for litigation.
These records are often kept at the worksite if there is an on-site physician or nurse. They could also be in the files of a physician, clinic, or hospital with whom the employer contracts for medical services.
An employee has access to his or her own medical record (29 CFR 1910.1020). An individual employee may also sign a written release authorizing a designated representative (such as a union representative) to receive access to his or her medical record. The latter might occur in a case where the union or a physician or other researcher working for the union or employer needs medical information on a whole group of workers to document a health problem. Certain confidential information may be deleted from an employee’s record before it is released.
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