OSHA has backed off from Obama-era restrictions on post-accident drug testing and safety incentive programs used by employers.
Previously, the agency held that employers could not use drug testing as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries or illnesses.
The earlier decision had assumed that the threat of a drug test would serve to intimidate employees into choosing not to report accidents and injuries.
Employers were limited to using drug testing only when there was a “reasonable possibility” that drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident or injury.
In an Oct. 11 guidance for its staff, OSHA stated that as far as it was concerned, “most instances of workplace drug testing are permissible.”
Similarly, the Obama-era OSHA had restricted the use of safety incentive and award programs premised on OSHA-recordable cases. which the agency also said discouraged employee reporting.
“The department believes that many employers who implement safety incentive programs and/or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health,” OSHA said in its latest memo to staff.
“In addition, evidence that the employer consistently enforces legitimate work rules (whether or not an injury or illness is reported) would demonstrate that the employer is serious about creating a culture of safety, not just the appearance of reducing rates.”
OSHA now holds that employers can use a safety incentive policy premised on OSHA recordables as long as the employer “has implemented adequate precautions to ensure that employees feel free to report an injury or illness.”