OSHA announced new regulations on reporting workplace illnesses and injuries in May. There are rolling out in two parts. For a refresher on part one, check out last month’s Advisor and on our website. Part two goes into effect on November 1, 2016.
Part two of the new regulations involves changing policies and procedures to ensure that employees understand the importance of reporting work-related illnesses and injuries, understand how to report and feel safe from any negative consequences of reporting. These changes apply to all businesses. In a recent OSHA survey of healthcare providers, two-thirds cited fear of reporting illnesses and injuries.
Employers are required to do the following:
- Establish reasonable procedures to report illnesses and injuries that do not discourage workers from reporting
- Inform employees of the reporting procedures and of their right to report
- Provide assurance that they cannot be fired or discriminated against for reporting.
TMC OSHA clients already have this in place in your policies and training program. Updates will be included in the 2017 update package.
Under these regulations OSHA can now cite and fine a business for discrimination, even if the employee did not report it to OSHA. Specifically OSHA mentions the following as prohibited discrimination:
- Reduction in pay
- Reassignment to a less desirable position
- Removal from the pool eligible for promotion or bonuses
- Blanket post-injury drug testing [Drug testing should only be used when there is a reasonable likelihood that drug impairment led to the injury and the drug test must be able to prove impairment not just that the worker used drugs at some point. This does not interfere with Workers Comp requirement because that would not be a discrimination by the employer.]
- Any adverse action that could well dissuade a reasonable employee from reporting a work-related accident or illness
- A policy of action or discipline for having an illness or injury that does not take into account reason or fault
- Discipline for not following the procedure for reporting the illness or injury
- Bonuses or other perks for having fewer or no illnesses or injuries [This constitutes company and peer pressure to not report.]
In addition, disciplining an employee for failure to follow a company standard safety procedure that resulted in an injury or illness can be reviewed as unacceptable. You would have to prove that this discipline is accorded to all employees regardless of injury or illness and that you have a means to monitor whether the procedure is followed.
Employees, ex-employees, and their personal representative are allowed to access their own incident reports. If requested, they must be provided by the end of the following day.