Raging Employee

Question: After receiving the announcement his workplace was scheduled to be downsized, an employee became upset and punched a cabinet with his right hand. The employee received first aid (because his hand was bleeding) and then was accompanied to the hospital. There they discovered that he had broken the 5th metacarpus. They gave him the appropriate care and he now has a plaster cast on his hand.

Answer: YES. 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. 1904.5(b)(2)(vi) states that intentionally self-inflicted injuries are not considered work-related. However, 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.

Letter of Interpretation: Work-related cases involving cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum must always be recorded under the general criteria at the time of diagnosis by a physician or other licensed health care professional. OSHA believes that cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones, and punctured eardrums are generally considered significant injuries and illnesses, and must be recorded at the initial diagnosis even if medical treatment or work restrictions are not recommended.