Scenario: Your company management gathered all the employees together to announce that there is going to be a company downsizing resulting in the layoff of employees. After receiving the news, one of your employees becomes upset and punches a cabinet with his right hand. The employee received first aid by your in-house first responders because his hand was bleeding and was accompanied by his supervisor to the hospital for x-rays. It was determined that the employee broke his 5th metacarpus. Hospital staff provided the appropriate care and he now has a plaster cast on his hand and a prescription for the pain.
Question: Does the result of the employee’s action meet the criteria for an OSHA Recordable? Or does this meet the exemption criteria for item (vi) of 1904.5(b)(2) where it says you do not need to record if the injury is intentionally self-inflicted?
Answer: An OSHA Letter of Interpretation written on March 31, 2009 to Mr. Victor E. Brame of Honeywell Analytics, Inc. OSHA says yes, this would be considered an OSHA Recordable Injury. OSHA’s reasoning is outlined below.
Section 1904.5(a) provides that “an injury or illness must be considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the injury or illness or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Section 1904.5(b)(1) defines the work environment as the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. Work-relatedness is presumed under Part 1904 for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies.”
“1904.5(b)(2)(vi) states that intentionally self-inflicted injuries are not considered work-related. However, we assume that when the employee punched the cabinet, he reacted without thought of injuring himself. Therefore, the injury was not intentionally self-inflicted and does not meet the criteria of the exception and is considered work-related.”
The letter further states “The nature of the activity which the employee is engaged in at the time of the event or exposure, the degree of employer control over the employee’s activity, the preventability of the incident, or the concept of fault do not affect the determination of work relationship. Furthermore, OSHA’s geographic presumption encompasses cases in which an injury or illness results from an event at work that is outside the employer’s control and covers cases in which an injury or illness results from activities that occur at work but that are not directly productive such as horseplay or workplace violence. Please see our Letter of Interpretation dated February 9, 2009 to Mr. Joe Winkelman on OSHA’s website. . .”
Applying these principles to your scenario, it is OSHA’s position that the injury was work-related and meets the recording criteria under 1904.7(b)(5) and 1904.7(b)(7)”.
Ready for another test of your OSHA Recordkeeping knowledge? Try this one: Can food poisoning from a company sponsored event be an OSHA Recordable?