Injuries sustained by drunk employees must be recorded

Employers in Pennsylvania and around the country are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to keep records of most work-related injuries and illnesses. However, there are some exceptions to OSHA’s record-keeping requirements. If an employee’s workplace injury is a direct result of ‘personal grooming, self-medication for a non-work related condition, or is intentionally self-inflicted,” the injury does not have to be recorded.

Recently, an employer sent a letter to OSHA requesting clarification about the exceptions to its record-keeping requirements. The employer asked if an employee who was injured while intoxicated by alcohol was self-medicating for alcoholism, a non-work related condition. The employer wanted to know whether the injury could be exempted from the recording mandate due to the employee’s use of alcohol.

OSHA responded to the employer’s question by saying that drinking alcohol is a manifestation of alcoholism and not an effective treatment for the disorder. Therefore, an employee who is injured while intoxicated by alcohol did not self-medicate for a non-work related condition. OSHA has no record-keeping exemption for injuries that result from failure to follow work rules, and an alcohol-related workplace injury should be recorded. OSHA also said that recording these types of injuries could draw attention to safety and health issues at a workplace.

For the most part, eligible employees who are injured on the job could be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits even if the employee’s negligence was a contributing cause to the accident. As these types of cases could be subject to intense scrutiny and challenges from the employer and its insurer, however, legal assistance could be advisable throughout the filing process.