Osha Rules On Horseplay

A request for clarification was presented to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding a case of injury to a worker purposely caused

Bob Eckhardt

A request for clarification was presented to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding a case of injury to a worker purposely caused by other employees in a nonwork situation. Specifically, an employer posed the question of whether friendly, locker-room horseplay that resulted in injury after turning violent should be considered an OSHA recordable incident.

The incident involved two employees who arrived at a construction trailer and began changing into work clothes. Friendly banter escalated to physical sparring, which resulted in one employee stabbing the other. In a February letter of interpretation, OSHA ruled that the injury was to be considered a recordable workplace incident. Exemptions for workplace violence are provided as follows:

The Recordkeeping rule contains no general exception, for purposes of determining work relationship, for cases involving acts of violence in the work environment. However, some cases involving violent acts might be included within one of the exceptions listed in section 1904.5(b)(2). For example, if an employee arrives at work early to use a company conference room for a civic club meeting and is injured by some violent act, the case would not be work-related under the exception in section 1904.5(b)(2)(v).

OSHA has maintained a position that all incidents occurring on the employer’s premises Û except for certain exclusions already specified in the standard Û are the responsibility of the employer. Injuries and illnesses not considered recordable include the following:

1904.5(b)(2) Recording injuries and illnesses is not required if÷
(i) At the time of injury or illness, the employee was present in the work environment as a member of the general public rather than as an employee.
(ii) Injury or illness involves signs or symptoms that surface at work, but result solely from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurs outside the work environment.
(iii) Injury or illness results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness, or recreational activity such as blood donation, physical examination, flu shot, exercise class, racquetball, or baseball.
(iv) Injury or illness is solely the result of an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption (whether bought on the employer’s premises or carried in). For example, if an employee is injured by choking on a sandwich while in the employer’s establishment, the case would not be considered work-related.
Note: If the employee is made ill by ingesting food tainted by workplace contaminants (such as lead), or gets food poisoning from food supplied by the employer, the case would be considered work-related.
(v) Injury or illness is solely the result of an employee performing personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the establishment outside assigned working hours.
(vi) Injury or illness is solely the result of personal grooming, self medication for a non-work-related condition, or is intentionally self-inflicted.
(vii) Injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident and occurs on a company parking lot or company access road while the employee is commuting to or from work.
(viii) Illness is the common cold or flu. Note: Contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, hepatitis A, or plague are considered work-related if the employee is infected at work.
(ix) Illness is a mental disorder. Mental illness will not be considered work-related, unless a worker voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health-care professional, e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, stating that the employee has a mental illness that is work-related.

More information regarding exclusions is available online at OSHA.gov by entering 29 CFR 1904.5 (Determination of work-relatedness).


The most recent sorted data for violations spans October 2007 through September 2008. OSHA cited 17 Concrete Block and Brick [SIC 3271] plants during this period and 117 Concrete Products [SIC 3272] plants. Citations were issued primarily for lockout/tagout, respiratory protection violations, HazCom violations, and forklifts. Interestingly, OSHA issued significant wiring and electrical violations among Concrete Products facilities, likely due to portable electrical tools and systems applications used in prestressed/precast production. Listed below are standards cited by the federal agency for three or more violations under SIC 3271 Concrete Block and Brick, followed by 10 or more under SIC 3272 Concrete Products.

Standard # Cited $ Penalty Description
19100147 9 18180 Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
19100178 8 1300 Powered industrial trucks
19101200 7 0 Hazard Communication
19100134 6 9675 Respiratory Protection
19100023 4 2138 Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
19100212 4 2788 General requirements for all machines
19100219 4 1335 Mechanical power-transmission apparatus
19101000 4 9300 Air contaminants
19100146 3 716 Permit-required confined spaces
19100134 65 24164 Respiratory Protection
19100305 54 41960 Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
19101200 52 21965 Hazard Communication
19100147 49 38304 Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
19100178 46 32243 Powered industrial trucks
19100179 38 26810 Overhead and gantry cranes
19100023 36 39481 Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
19100215 30 14590 Abrasive wheel machinery
19100095 29 21565 Occupational noise exposure
19100212 27 18467 General requirements for all machines
19100184 24 24312 Slings
19100132 21 13483 General requirements
19100303 21 23168 General requirements
19100213 19 18191 Woodworking machinery requirements
19100146 18 15740 Permit-required confined spaces
19100180 18 18750 Crawler locomotive and truck cranes
19100022 16 12145 General requirements
19100106 16 11426 Flammable and combustible liquids
19100107 14 7285 Spray finishing using flammable and combustible materials
19100219 14 12670 Mechanical power-transmission apparatus
5A0001 12 25540 General duty clause
19100037 11 4158 Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes
19100157 11 1905 Portable fire extinguishers
19100253 11 11226 Oxygen-fuel gas welding and cutting
19100304 11 14000 Wiring design and protection
19101000 10 3975 Air contaminants

For Concrete Products facilities, electrical citations under 1910.0305 [54] and 1910.0304 [11] resulted in fines totaling $44,960, the costliest combined group of similar violations. That sum ties the largest number of citations for a single category Û respiratory protection Û under Concrete Products SIC 3272.


The most common OSHA citation among Concrete Block and Brick operations and fourth in frequency of violation by Concrete Products facilities is Lockout/Tagout (LOTO). The chief cause of LOTO citations is a lack of policy, followed by failure on the part of field personnel to comply with policies that do exist. A complicated and lengthy LOTO standard impedes policy implementation by employers, as it is difficult to follow in field applications. Conditions facilitating LOTO compliance can be enumerated as follows:

1. Company has a verifiable system in the form of a written LOTO policy.
2. Policy is reviewed annually with proper documentation of each review.
3. Locks are identified with a tag, indicating company name, person using the lock, date, and time the lock is applied.
4. A LOTO sheet or other system is maintained to document control of sources to be locked, as well as personnel associated with the lockout/tagout routine.
5. LOTO training is documented and verifiable.
6. Residual, or stored energy, is relieved between applying the locks and beginning work.

OSHA requires all personnel to follow a series of LOTO steps prior to beginning work and a second series of steps to remove the locks and restore the equipment to service. Applying locks to the controls of a system to be repaired or maintained has been made needlessly burdensome and, thus, remains an OSHA citation trap.