Under the Influence

Under the Influence

Question: In a sad attempt to promote safety at work, an employee dresses in a costume and begins recording promotional videos without explicit approval from management. The employee falls down a flight of stairs and breaks multiple bones. The same employee also is found to be under the influence of THC after failing a drug test. Is it recordable?

Answer: YES. Being under the influence or using poor judgment are not exceptions to the OSHA recordkeeping guidelines. A significant incident that is beyond the employer's control must still be recorded.

Letter of Interpretation: In the final rule, OSHA notes that many circumstances that lead to a recordable work-related injury or illness are "beyond the employer's control." Nevertheless, because such an injury or illness was caused, contributed to, or significantly aggravated by an event or exposure at work, it must be recorded on the OSHA form (assuming that it meets one or more of the recording criteria and does not qualify for an exception to the geographic presumption). This approach is consistent with the no-fault recordkeeping system OSHA has historically adopted, which includes work-related injuries and illnesses, regardless of the level of employer control or non-control involved. The concept of fault has never been a consideration in any recordkeeping system of the U.S. Department of Labor. Both the Note to Subpart A of the final rule and the new OSHA Form 300 expressly state that recording a case does not indicate fault, negligence, or compensability. In addition, OSHA recognizes that injury and illness rates do not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health or success or failure per se. OSHA feels it is to the benefit of all parties to go beyond the numbers and look at an employer's safety and health program.