Drunk at Work
Question: An employee notices his heavy metal tool cabinet begin to tip over and attempts to stop it from falling. He is unable to hold the weight and his hand gets crushed between the cabinet and the wall, breaking several bones. After receiving treatment for the injury, the employee was immediately given a post-accident drug test. The results of the drug test indicated the employee was intoxicated from alcohol. Is it recordable?
Answer: YES. Intoxication by alcohol is not considered self-medication and is not excepted under the recordkeeping rule and the broken bone is considered a severe injury and should be recorded.
Letter of Interpretation: In the January 19, 2001, preamble to the final rule revising the recordkeeping regulation, OSHA explained that "work-related cancer, irreversible diseases, fractures of bone or teeth and punctured eardrums are generally recognized as constituting significant diagnoses, and if the condition is work-related, are appropriately recorded at the time of the initial diagnosis even if, at that time, medical treatment or work restrictions are not recommended."
Letter of Interpretation: In analyzing this question, we consulted with physicians from OSHA s Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing. The physicians concluded that the intake of alcohol does not treat the disorder of alcoholism. Instead, drinking alcohol is a manifestation of the disorder. Accordingly, the injury described in the scenario above does not meet the exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi) for self-medication.