Do You Have to Record Injuries for Drunk Employees?Most employees are sober on the job and responsible about their workplace, so worrying about what to do when an incident occurs while one of your workers is intoxicated is not a primary concern for most employers. However, people make mistakes and employees whose senses are impaired by drugs or alcohol are somewhat more likely to end up in dangerous situations while at work.

An employer in California requested interpretation of work-related exceptions as detailed in Section 1904.5(b)(2)(vi) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s regulations about Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. This employer had questions about whether or not injuries sustained by a drunk worker, in this case an injury caused when the worker in question caught their hand between two objects while at work on a construction site, needed to be reported to OSHA.

The work-related exceptions do state that injuries due to medications brought from home and negative reactions that those medications cause are excepted from regular reporting requirements. Alcoholism is a disease, so it is possible that measures taken to address alcoholism could fall under this exception. However, the physicians consulted in OSHA’s Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing stated that alcohol could not be considered a form of medication for alcoholism.

As such, the occupational injury that this letter addressed and all others sustained while workers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs still need to be reported just like most other occupational injuries. OSHA did point out in its letter that recording injuries that are directly related to workplace intoxication can serve as a valuable tool for indicating that workplace conditions may be unsafe in unreportable ways that manifest themselves in workers showing up drunk to work, such as questionable effectiveness of disciplinary policies and/or supervision.