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After the Storm: OSHA's Employee Rights Provision

Post Author Rob Loose
Nov 3, 2016 4:45:12 PM
Workforce Insights
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Rain may be annoying but after a storm, folks are typically thankful for cleaner air and replenished lakes and streams. In January, OSHA is raining down transparency with new provisions for reporting workplace injuries. Get your umbrella, because soon, large organizations will be required to electronically report injury stats. In turn, OSHA will share these “stats” with the public hoping enforced disclosure will encourage organizations to be safer.

A little rain (public disclosure of injuries) may cause some embarrassment, but most organizations will adjust and ideally work harder at employee safety. The more concerning part of OSHA’s storm is the wind that blows away mandatory post incident drug testing rules. You see, OSHA aims to enforce employers to allow workers unfettered access to reporting injuries. This controversial provision is in conflict with drug-free workplace practices and caused blusters of resistance and even law suits. As OSHA works through the conflict, employers should anticipate living without mandatory post incident drug testing, post storm.

As many of our friends on the east coast are experiencing following Hurricane Matthew, we know that after storms, there comes clean up.  I believe our “clean up” will include eliminating mandatory post incident drug testing and replacing it with reasonable-suspicion (RS).  That said, to continue to deter workplace drug abuse and stay in OSHA’s good favor, RS policies should be water tight and wind proof!  Here are some tips to weather proofing your RS policy.

  1. At a minimum, make sure RS policy exists, institute careful documentation practices, and realize two or more witnesses offering independent accounts are always better than one and stick to facts.

  2. Make your employees aware that RS exists in your organization. After all, a deterrent only works if it is well known.

  3. Train your supervisory teams to identify signs related to drug impairment. Leaders should be skilled at recognizing these behaviors.

  4. Remember that drug impairment behavior may occur before, during or after work. Pay attention to all of these times.

  5. Always address RS promptly. Delaying action may compromise workplace safety.  

At the end of this storm – proverbially - will the air be cleaner and lakes and streams swell with fresh water? Who knows? Hopefully workplace safety will improve and we will see fewer work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.  It is my belief that sound RS practices will continue to help organizations deter workplace drug abuse even if OSHA’s new provision hobbles workplace drug-free practices.     

Have any more questions regarding this recent OSHA ruling or any other safety issues at your organization? Contact us today! Whether you have questions about your contract or direct workforce, we are here to help. 

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