OSHA has stated that it is afraid that illness and injury will be underreported by employers under the proposed injury and illness report rule. As a result, it is proposing new rules to prevent employer retaliation against reporting. They have reopened comment on the rule to receive feedback on new retaliation prevention proposals.
During the original comment period, concerning injury and illness reporting rules earlier this year, the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) provided comment. The AESC concluded that the proposed rule will do little to reduce injuries and illness on the job site. It will, however, force employers to disclose information that may result in violations of worker privacy and compromise business confidentiality. In addition, the proposal will reverse the “no-fault” approach to record keeping while reducing the employers’ incentive to record questionable injuries. Finally, OSHA fails to account for the total costs its rule making will impose on businesses, while claiming unsubstantiated benefits. The AESC urged OSHA to withdraw the rule making.
Adams and Reece, a labor law firm, also has provided a summary on the implications of the new proposal. “Those provisions will require employers to: (1) inform employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses free from discrimination or retaliation; (2) implement injury and illness reporting requirements reasonable and not unduly burdensome; and (3) prohibit disciplining employees for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Under the new rules, the following types of employer activities are expressly prohibited:
- Mandatory drug testing every time an employee reports an injury (unless there is a reason to suspect drug use).
- Demanding that employees report illnesses and injuries within a certain time after being injured or becoming ill.
- Requiring employees report injuries and illnesses in-person to someone at a distant location (i.e., requiring field employees to report to someone in the office as opposed to their supervisor in the field).
- Terminating employees who are injured because they failed to abide by the employer’s safety rules.
- Disciplining employees who report injuries or illnesses or terminating employees who have more than X injuries.
- Enforcing vague safety rules like “situational awareness” and “work carefully” only after an employee is injured.
- Enrolling employees in “Repeat Offender” programs”.
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