(a) Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to be
work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused
or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a
pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries
and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work
environment, unless an exception in Section 14300.5(b)(2) specifically
(1) What is the "work environment"?
Work environment is defined as "the establishment and other
locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a
condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only
physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee
during the course of his or her work."
(2) Are there situations where an injury or illness occurs in the work
environment and is not considered work-related?
Yes. An injury or illness occurring in the work environment that falls
under one of the following exceptions is not work-related, and therefore
is not recordable:
(A) At the time of the injury or illness, the employee was present in
the work environment as a member of the general public rather than as an
(B) The 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.
(C) The 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.
(D) The 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 brought in). For example, if the
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 contaminated by
workplace contaminants (such as lead), or gets food poisoning from food
supplied by the employer, the case would be considered work-related.
(E) The injury or illness is solely the result of an employee doing
personal tasks (unrelated to their employment) at the establishment
outside of the employee's assigned working hours.
(F) The injury or illness is solely the result of personal grooming,
self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or is intentionally
(G) The 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.
(H) The 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).
(I) The illness is a mental illness. Mental illness will not be
considered work-related unless the employee voluntarily provides the
employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health care
professional with appropriate training and experience (psychiatrist,
psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, etc.) stating that the
employee has a mental illness that is work-related.
(3) How do I handle a case if it is not obvious whether the
precipitating event or exposure occurred in the work environment or
occurred away from work?
In these situations, you must evaluate the employee's work duties and
environment to decide whether or not one or more events or exposures in
the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting
condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.
(4) How do I know if an event or exposure in the work environment
"significantly aggravated" a pre-existing injury or illness?
A pre-existing injury or illness has been significantly aggravated, for
purposes of Cal/OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping required by this
Article, when an event or exposure in the work environment results in any
of the following:
(A) Death, provided that the pre-existing injury or illness would
likely not have resulted in death but for the occupational event or
(B) Loss of consciousness, provided that the pre-existing injury or
illness would likely not have resulted in loss of consciousness but for
the occupational event or exposure.
(C) One or more days away from work, or days of restricted work, or
days of job transfer that otherwise would not have occurred but for the
occupational event or exposure.
(D) Medical treatment in a case where no medical treatment was needed
for the injury or illness before the workplace event or exposure, or a
change in medical treatment was necessitated by the workplace event or
(5) Which injuries and illnesses are considered pre-existing
An injury or illness is a pre-existing condition if it resulted solely
from a non-work-related event or exposure that occurred outside the work
(6) How do I decide whether an injury or illness is work-related if the
employee is on travel status at the time the injury or illness occurs?
Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is on travel status
are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee
was engaged in work activities "in the interest of the
employer." Examples of such activities include travel to and from
customer contacts, conducting job tasks, and entertaining or being
entertained to transact, discuss, or promote business (work-related
entertainment includes only entertainment activities being engaged in at
the direction of the employer).
Injuries or illnesses that occur when the employee is on travel status
do not have to be recorded if they meet one of the following exceptions:
EXCEPTION 1: When a traveling employee checks into a hotel, motel, or
other temporary residence, he or she establishes a "home away from
home." You must evaluate the employee's activities after he or she
checks into the hotel, motel, or other temporary residence for their
work-relatedness in the same manner as you evaluate the activities of a
non-traveling employee. When the employee checks into the temporary
residence, he or she is considered to have left the work environment. When
the employee begins work each day, he or she re-enters the work
environment. If the employee has established a "home away from
home" and is reporting to a fixed worksite each day, you also do not
consider injuries or illnesses work-related if they occur while the
employee is commuting between the temporary residence and the job
EXCEPTION 2: Injuries or illnesses are not considered
work-related if they occur while the employee is on a personal detour from
a reasonably direct route of travel (e.g., has taken a side trip for
(7) How do I decide if a case is work-related when the employee is
working at home?
Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home,
including work in a home office, will be considered work-related if the
injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or
compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to
the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or
setting. For example, if an employee drops a box of work documents and
injures his or her foot, the case is considered work-related. If an
employee's fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used
to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical
treatment, the injury is considered work-related. If an employee is
injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer
a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related. If an employee
working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury
is not considered work-related.
NOTE: Authority cited: Section 6410, Labor Code. Reference: Section
6410, Labor Code.