In a recent letter of interpretation addressing a common issue at worksites around the country, OSHA confirmed that injuries to employees sustained at the worksite as a result of “horseplay” are recordable on OSHA Logs, so long as the injuries also meet other general recording criteria (such as requiring medical treatment beyond first aid).

The interpretation stems from an incident described as “horseplay gone badly.” At the end of a work day, two supervisors got into a physical confrontation while changing to go home. One supervisor pulled a knife and stuck the other in the arm, resulting in several sutures.

OSHA stated that the injury was recordable. First, because the injury resulted from an event occurring in the work environment, it was presumed to be work-related and none of the exceptions to this “geographic presumption” applied. The exceptions include, among other things, injuries such as those resulting from an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food for personal consumption, those involving signs or symptoms that surface at work but result solely from a non-work-related event, and those caused by a motor vehicle accident occurring on a company parking lot while the employee is commuting to or from work. Second, because the injury required medical treatment beyond first aid, OSHA concluded that it satisfied the other recordability criteria related to severity.

OSHA dismissed as essentially irrelevant the issue of whether the injury resulted from activities that were “not directly productive” to the employer’s work. OSHA also reiterated that there is no general exception under the recordkeeping rule for violence that occurs at the worksite.

Situations such as this are all too common in the workplace. Aside from taking steps to address violence in the workplace generally, employers must ensure that when an incident occurs and injury results, it is properly recorded under OSHA’s rules, if warranted.