OSHA’s New Rule On Workplace Safety, Retaliation, And Post-Accident Drug Testing

In May of 2016, OSHA published a new rule regarding the improvement of tracking workplace injuries and illness in the Federal Register. The new rule requires certain employers to submit injuries and illnesses electronically to more effectively track, analyze, and learn from the data regarding the safety of the workplace. OSHA also states in the new rule that post-accident testing might discourage employees from reporting injuries and illnesses on the job out of fear of retaliation. And it has made adjustments to their regulations to improve the safety and fairness in the workplace.

Here’s an overview of the new rule and how it will affect certain employers.

What Does the New Rule Do?

This rule revises the old legislation titled Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and requires employers to submit data on injuries and illness that they are already required to keep under OSHA laws. OSHA has set a few requirements included in this new rule to ensure the accuracy and completeness of injury and illness data that include employers informing employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illness without having to worry about retaliation from the employer, employees not being deterred in any way to report injuries and illnesses, and that an employer’s procedures for reporting such must be reasonable.

Why is the Concern Over Retaliation Addressed?

Is it currently a rule that workers cannot be discriminated against or discharged because they reported a fatality, injury, or illness. Retaliation is when an employer or manager punishes an employee for making the company look bad by reporting accidents that resulted in injury, death, or illness. The new rule adds to this regulation and allows OSHA to now be able to cite an employer for retaliation without needing a filed complaint from an employee. Many times, an employer won’t speak up and assert their rights because their employer has a program set up that intimidates them from reporting injuries and illness. The new rule allows OSHA to step up when this may be the case to protect workers who fear their employment status. It also affects how and when post-accident drug testing can be used.

What Does Retaliation Have to do with Post-Accident Drug Testing?

The new rule issued by OSHA now requires employers to have a reasonable suspicion that drugs or alcohol had something to do with an accident for post-accident drug testing to be allowed. The rule is meant to protect workers who may choose not to report accidents because they are concerned about a post-accident drug test and getting unfavorable results due to recent substance or alcohol use that did not have something to do with the accident.  If OSHA finds that an employer is requiring post-accident drug tests for accidents in which drug use was not a likely cause, and employs a drug testing program that deters employees from reporting accidents, they may be faced with steep penalties of up to $70,000.

How Does the Rule Affect Drug Testing?

The rule does not prohibit drug testing of employees, it only does not allow the use of drug tests as a threat to scare employees as a form of retaliation. Post-accident drug testing is an important part of safety in the workplace and can determine whether drugs or alcohol helped cause an accident. It also helps keep drug users out of the workplace to prevent accidents from happening as a result of substance use. If post-accident drug testing is done to comply with state and federal requirements, then it is not retaliation. Employers who wish to avoid expensive fines from OSHA may need to revise their drug testing program to comply with the new rules for post-accident testing and may need to increase their rate of random drug tests to try and catch illegal drug use before an accident takes place.

It is important to stay up-to-date with OSHA rules and regulations to ensure you are providing a safe and compliant work environment that benefits everyone involved. With this new rule, OSHA’s mission is to help prevent future injuries and fatalities with better data and to promote a fair workplace for employees. As an employer, you now need to understand that post-accident drug testing can’t be used after every single work-related accident and needs to be used as a result of reasonable suspicion of drug use.

If you’re interested in creating a safe, drug-free workplace, look into the services at New Era Drug Testing. They provide drug testing for workplaces that wish for the most accurate results to protect employees, customers, and their business.