OSHA Quiz – Is An Injury Received as a Result of Horseplay an OSHA recordable?

by Dwayne Towles

Is An Injury Received as a Result of Horseplay an OSHA Recordable?


Scenario:  Two of your supervisors completed their work for the day and entered the change trailer to change clothes and proceed home.  There was some bantering back and forth between the two concerning how to beat the traffic at shift’s end.  The discussion escalated into a physical confrontation where one supervisor allegedly pulled a knife and struck the other in the right bicep, causing a laceration that required sutures to close.

Question: Is the injury the one employee received an OSHA recordable or not?

Here is OSHA’s Response: Under 29 CFR Subpart C, “Recordkeeping Forms and Recording Criteria,” an injury must be recorded if it is work-related, is a new case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria (such as requiring medical treatment beyond first aid). See 29 CFR §1904.4(a). An injury is presumed to be work-related if it results from an event occurring in the work environment, unless an enumerated exception to this geographic presumption applies. See 29 CFR §1904.5(a). The work environment includes any location where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. See 29 CFR §1904.5(b)(1). We assume that the supervisors were in the change trailer as a part of their work or as a condition of their employment. If our assumption is correct, the injury resulted from an event (the altercation between the two supervisors) occurring in the work environment and was thus work-related. When a work-related injury requires treatment beyond first aid, it is recordable unless it falls within one of the §1904.5(b)(2) exceptions to the geographic presumption.Violence in the workplace does not generally qualify as an exception. OSHA’s Frequently Asked Question 5-2 (found at http://osha.gov/recordkeeping/detailedfaq.html#1904.4 ) provides guidance on this issue.

To see OSHA’s entire response click here.

In addition the Recordkeeping Handbook makes the following statement “Illegal activities and horseplay:… OSHA has not adopted any of these recommended exceptions in the final recordkeeping rule because excluding these injuries and illnesses would be inconsistent with OSHA’s longstanding reliance on the geographic presumption to establish work-relatedness. Furthermore, the Agency believes that many of the working conditions pointed to in these comments involve occupational factors, such as the effectiveness of disciplinary policies and supervision. Thus, recording such incidents may serve to alert both the employer and employees to workplace safety and health issues”.