Last May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule that improves tracking of workplace injuries. The first deadline to electronically submit your 2016 Form 300A is July 1, 2017. The rule does not change any forms that must be submitted manually. Employers with locations of 250 or more employees and those with at least 20 employees in high risk industries must comply. The term “high risk” is broad. Examples of high risk industries include grocery stores, direct selling establishments, museums as well as medical hospitals and manufacturing. OSHA provides a list of high risk industries by NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code.
This new rule impacts employers whether your company is a high risk industry or not. In addition to electronic reporting and OSHA posting employers’ statistics, the rule prohibits retaliation for reporting a work related injury or illness. Employers should review three policies to ensure compliance.
2. Post-accident drug testing
3. Safety incentive programs
The first step is to make sure “It’s The Law” OSHA poster is up to date. It should state employees have the right to report injuries without retaliation. Next, employers should communicate a reasonable way to report an accident, injury or illness.
It is unreasonable and an OSHA violation to discipline an employee for reporting an injury, or for reporting an injury a few days after it occurred, if the employee was unable to report or did not believe it was significant at the time it occurred.
OSHA does not prohibit employers from disciplining employees who violate safety rules as long as the employer treats employees who did not report an injury the same way. OSHA wants to see the rule applied consistently when evaluating whether a violation occurred.
OSHA prohibits drug testing employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses without a reasonable basis. The reasonable basis is the belief that drug use by the reporting employee could have contributed to the injury or illness and could provide insight into why the injury or illness occurred. Therefore, OSHA will only consider drug testing that is capable of measuring impairment at the time the injury or illness occurred. It’s a violation to drug test the employee reporting the incident if the employee’s behavior did not cause it. Conversely, it would be appropriate to drug test those employees who may have contributed to the incident who were not injured and did not report it. The idea is to discern how the injury or illness took place and not punish the reporter.
It is time to review safety incentive programs. An example of a monthly $500 raffle for no reported injuries is a violation because withholding a benefit is adverse action for simply reporting a work-related injury. Employers can raffle off that same $500 gift card for complying with safety rules or attending safety training.
It is safety time. Set up your electronic reporting and review policies and practices for work-related injuries and illness. A focus on safety helps create a healthy and respectful workplace.