Recordkeeping, Regulatory Developments

Opinion: OSHA Discourages Blanket Postaccident Drug Testing

By Al Vreeland

OSHA’s new electronic recordkeeping rule, finalized in May, requires certain employers to submit injury and illness data to OSHA. But it also includes provisions intended to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report injuries, among them a caution against postaccident drug testing. Here’s what guest columnist Al Vreeland thinks about the agency’s move:

Since the name of their game is safety, you would think OSHA wouldn’t want forklift drivers and overhead crane operators toking on a bong before their shifts. We’ve grown accustomed to contradictory government directives (e.g., the Affordable Care Act (ACA) encourages employer-sponsored wellness programs, while the EEOC thinks they’re the devil). But when a single agency with the sole mission of promoting workplace safety suggests postaccident drug testing may make the workplace less safe, we’re gobsmacked.

OSHA recently issued its new rule on reporting injuries. In addition to requiring electronic reporting by certain employers, the new rule “clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting.” Sounds reasonable, right? You don’t want to penalize employees simply for reporting injuries; it’s what the law requires, and it’s essential to preventing future workplace accidents.

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