Injuries at Voluntary Charitable Events: Recordable under OSHA?

It is that time of year again where many businesses provide their employees with the opportunity to participate in various charitable events in the spirit of giving. Doing so may raise a number of employment-related issues including whether such time is compensable or whether an injury during such an event is covered by Workers’ Compensation. The answer to these questions may turn on facts such as whether employees are required to participate, does it occur during normal business hours, or whether employees are incentivized or otherwise encouraged to attend.

In a recent interpretation letter dated October 5, 2020, OSHA reconfirmed its historical position that injuries that result solely from voluntary participation in recreational activities are not considered work-related (whether for charitable purposes or not) and thus need not be recorded. Not surprisingly, OSHA reminded employers that, as mentioned above, additional questions such as whether participation is purely voluntary or conducted at the direction of the employer may make it more likely that such an injury may be work-related.

Accordingly, it is a good reminder that employers should document the circumstances of participating in such charitable events for OSHA and other employment-related reasons. 

A copy of the interpretation can be found here.

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