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OSHA updates drug testing policy

Effective as of Nov. 1, 2016:

OSHA updates policies regarding incentives and drug testing.

According to OSHA, all companies should have "reasonable procedures" in place for employees to report any sort of injury or illness. All employees should have been notified of the new procedure before this effective date.

Incentive program policies must be updated. The new regulation does not forbid companies from having such programs, but incentives cannot "deter or discourage" employees from filing reports that are related to injuries or illnesses in the workplace. "Incentive programs should encourage safe work practices and promote worker participation in safety-related activities."

Studies OSHA conducted show that employees were hesitant to file reports in the past, which led to the new regulation. Employers must explain to all workers that they are allowed to report any incident and in turn they will not be discriminated against.

OSHA holds the official position that immediate drug testing after an accident without "reasonable suspicion" is a violation of the policy. For instance, if an employee trips and sprains his or her ankle, that individual is not allowed to be drug tested as a retaliation of the event. However, the rule does not entirely prohibit drug testing of employees—it only prohibits employers from using drug testing, or the threat of drug testing, as a form of retaliation against employees who report injuries or illnesses. If an employer has "reasonable suspicion" to drug test the employee that was involved in the accident, then a drug test is a reasonable course of action for the employer to take.

The new policies went into effect officially on August 10, 2016, but the rules were not enforced until November 1, thus giving employers plenty of time to both notify employees of the changes and bend any existing policies to conform to the new laws.

To sum things up:

• Every employee has the right to report any sort of work-related injury or illness.
• Employers are not allowed to act negatively towards said employee for filing the report.
• Find out your company's procedure for filing such reports. New OSHA regulations state that whichever procedure is in place cannot require the report to be filed immediately after the incident. Since not all injuries and illnesses expose themselves immediately, a reasonable time-frame must be established.
• Employers cannot threaten to drug test employees to prevent injury or illness, or use it as retaliation.
• OSHA states employers "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."

For more information, visit OSHA.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration


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