A new U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule will take effect November 1, 2016. The new OSHA rule encourages employees, and under certain circumstances, requires employers to report workplace injuries, and it also makes it clear that employers cannot threaten drug tests as a penalty following workplace injuries or illnesses as a means to deter employees from reporting an ailment or incident.
Retaliation after workplace injury reporting is illegal. It has always been illegal but the new rule provides OSHA with additional tools to cite an employer for retaliation. The new OSHA rule, “prohibits any person from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who reports a fatality, injury, or illness.” OSHA now has the authority to cite employers for such acts of retaliation in the absence of a formal complaint by the employee.
You cannot be fired for reporting a workplace or work related injury or illness.
The new OSHA rule includes a dramatic change in the administration of drug tests following workplace injuries: “drug testing policies should limit post-incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident, and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.” One workplace injury considered inappropriate for drug testing would be, “repetitive strain injury or injuries caused by a lack of machine guarding, or a machine or tool malfunction.”
On January 1, 2017, the new OSHA rule will also require employers to report workplace injury and illness data electronically from OSHA logs, and this information will be made available to the public on OSHA’s website. Personal information will be removed to protect the identification of individuals.
After January 1, 2017, employers are required to:
Prohibit related retaliation after workplace injury reporting
Inform employees of their right to report workplace or work related injuries and illnesses
Update procedures for work related injury reporting, so that it is not unreasonable or does not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and
Discontinue general/blanket post-accident drug-testing policies (viewed as retaliation); and conduct drug-testing following work related injuries only if there is reasonable possibility of drug use for the individual employee involved
The additional recordkeeping and electronic submission requirements apply to certain work environments and industries, such as:
work locations with 250 or more employees, and
work locations with 20 to 249 employees in specific “high-risk industries” identified in the rule.