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How OSHA's Stance on Post-incident Drug Testing Affects Your Business

Too many employers don’t stop to consider what they will do if an on-the-job accident occurs. Serious costs can be incurred in the form of insurance premiums and deductibles, workers’ comp, and even lawsuits. These costs lead some employers to take drastic and even illegal measures to discourage the reporting of accidents at work. Often, this attracts unwanted attention from OSHA.

What is OSHA?

With the integration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 came the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This organization, active within the United States Department of Labor, works to promote safe and healthy workplace conditions for men and women in all industries by enforcing federal standards for compliance and providing training, outreach, education, and other forms of assistance that all come together to protect the rights of both employers and employees in the United States.

In May 2016, OSHA published a provision that prohibited employers from retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses and explored how this update can affect how companies approach future post-incident drug testing policies and other workplace safety programs.

How does this provision impact my company?

The main focus of this provision was to clearly communicate OSHA’s stance on workplace safety programs and post-incident drug testing. The department understands that companies implement screening programs to ensure workplace safety and protect the health of their employees. If employers test employees for any reason other than a motivation to promote workplace safety and health, they are in violation of the national standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA highlighted incentive programs as an important tool to cultivate a healthy and safe work environment. Incentives motivate employees to actively implement safe practices and pinpoint issues that need to be addressed by operations or HR departments. One type of incentive can award managers at the end of an injury or drug-free month. With that in mind, OSHA prevents managers or supervisors from preventing lower-level employees from reporting incidents or safety-related problems. Employers can reward employees for reporting unsafe working conditions as well.

With this new update, most workplace drug testing practices are protected by this provision:

  • Random drug testing
  • Drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness
  • Drug testing under state worker’s compensation law
  • Drug testing under other federal laws, such as those enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Drug testing to evaluate incidents caused by substance abuse that harmed, or potentially could have harmed, an employee

State and federal laws in relation to workplace safety and industry compliance are always evolving. All KRESS employees are aware of any and all updates to ensure all of our clients stay compliant. Contact us today to learn how we can customize a screening package that caters to your company’s needs, your state’s laws, and federal regulations.

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