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OSHA Can Enforce Rule for Drug Testing and Safety Incentives

On Nov. 28, a federal judge decided the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can begin enforcing its rule restricting safety incentives and drug testing programs, according to Judge Sam Lindsay of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas said the industry organizations and employers seeking a temporary injunction against enforcing the rule had failed to show there would be irreparable harm to them if OSHA moved forward with enforcing the rule. Dec. 1 is the enforcement start date. The challenged standard requires about 466,000 work sites with more than 20 employees to electronically submit annual injury and illness log data to OSHA, enabling OSHA to post on its public website summaries of each establishment's records. The electronic submission requirement will start taking effect in 2017 and be phased in through 2019. Lindsay said his order isn't an indication about whether OSHA will prevail against the industry request for a permanent injunction. Among those seeking the injunction were the National Association of Manufacturers, the Great American Insurance Company and construction organizations. The standard also says workplaces "must establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately." A procedure isn't reasonable if it "would deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness." To implement the reporting procedure, OSHA said safety incentive programs rewarding workers and supervisors for low injury and illness rates may violate the standard because cash and other benefits could convince workers to not report cases. In addition, OSHA said drug testing programs requiring any worker reporting an injury to be tested could violate the standard because the threat of testing would discourage reporting.

Provided by: NRCA

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