New proposed OSHA rule stirs some employers

The federal Occupations Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has proposed some guidelines regarding the reporting of workplace accidents which have caused some consternation among some employers, particularly those who would like to conduct drug and alcohol tests after an accident.

Specifically, the proposed rule, which took effect this year and was going to require employers to submit data of their work accident histories to OSHA for public posting, will now not actually apply to employers until closer to the end of this year, assuming there are no further delays.

The reason for the delay is not because employers are now being required to report accidents electronically; the new rule also prohibits employers from engaging in "retaliation" against a worker because the worker reports an on-the-job injury to the employer.

While it may seem reasonable in principle that workers should be able to report injuries to their employer, some employers are objecting because, in separate actions, OSHA has concluded that requiring a drug test after an accident could be seen as retaliation against the worker who reported it.

While OSHA's rules do not apply to random drug testing or a pre-employment drug screen, OSHA's actions are calling in to question whether an employer can ask for a drug test after getting word of an accident, especially if there is little evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident.

Although it is understandable why employers would want a drug free workplace, employees in Stockton, California, should not have to fear reporting an accident involving workplace safety or have any hesitation that they might not be able to keep their jobs after doing so.

Source: builderonline.com, "New OSHA guidelines under review," Brian Croce, Aug. 2, 2017.

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