March 16, 2017
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) already requires recording and reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. OSHA’s new “final rule,” effective January 1, 2017, requires certain employers to submit injury and illness data electronically. Those submissions must begin by July 1, 2017.
OSHA expects the electronically submitted data to help the administration use its enforcement and compliance assistant resources more efficiently. OSHA also hopes to better identify, target, and remove safety and health hazards.
Firms subject to the final rule reporting requirements include:
- All establishments with 250 or more employees
- Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain “high-risk” industries
The electronic reporting requirements are based on the size of each physical location where business is conducted or industrial operations are performed, not the size of the employer firm.
Of course, any data OSHA collects will only be accurate as long as employees feel free to report work injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation by their employer. The final rule’s anti-retaliation component went into effect as of December 1, 2016.
The final rule also prohibits employers from using drug testing (or threatening to use drug testing) as a form of adverse action against employees who report work injuries or illnesses. Post-injury drug testing for most employers should be limited to cases in which:
- The employee’s drug use likely contributed to the incident
- The drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use