Alcohol-Related Workplace Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

October 25, 2016

It seems quite obvious that alcohol has no place on the job site (unless you are in the hospitality business, of course). The use of alcohol can inhibit judgement and cause a person to be unsteady on their feet, which could lead to accidents and injuries. According to a report, The Effect of Substance Use on Workplace Injuries, published by the Rand Center for Health and Safety in the Workplace,”injury is one of many adverse consequences of substance use and misuse, and substance use and misuse are therefore often suspected to contribute to occupational injuries.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that excessive alcohol use is known to kill about 88,000 people in the United States each year, and it creates a drain on the economy largely due to losses in workplace productivity.

In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation benefits may be denied if an employee’s workplace injury was caused by intoxication. The employer must be able to prove that the employee’s injury was caused by their intoxication. The state of Pennsylvania, however, does not have any comprehensive laws regulating or prohibiting drug testing in the workplace, so employers are free to establish drug-testing programs as they see fit. (There are some regulations in place for federal workers and contractors under the Drug-Free Workplace Act.) Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations permit post-accident drug testing for employees. Employers should suspect that there is a reasonable possibility that drug or alcohol use was a contributing factor to the reported injury or illness in order to require a drug test.

If an employee’s post-incident drug screening test reveals that they were intoxicated at the time of the incident, and the employer denies their workers’ compensation claim for their injuries, the employee can appeal the decision and the burden of proof will be on them to prove that the alcohol had no bearing on the cause of the accident.

Have you failed a post-accident drug screening and been denied workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury? You may benefit from scheduling a consultation with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney who will review your case and discuss your options.

Larry Pitt & Associates helps injured workers throughout Pennsylvania. To speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer, please call 888.PITT.LAW, or fill out our contact form. We maintain multiple offices to better serve our clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.