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OSHA Changes and Post-Accident Drug Testing

July 08, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Employers are wondering what they need to do about their drug testing programs due to OSHA’s recent changes to their Injury and Illness electronic reporting requirements.

OSHA is suggesting that “blanket” post-accident drug-testing policies discourage the reporting of workplace accidents/injuries and can be viewed by employees as an invasion of privacy.

OSHA states that “Although drug testing of employees may be a reasonable workplace policy in some situations, it is often perceived as an invasion of privacy, so if an injury or illness is very unlikely to have been caused by employee drug use, or if the method of drug testing does not identify impairment but only use at some time in the recent past, requiring the employee to be drug tested may inappropriately deter reporting…The final rule does prohibit employers from using drug testing (or the threat of drug testing) as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries or illnesses.  To strike the appropriate balance here, drug testing policies should limit post-incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident, and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.  For example, it would likely not be reasonable to drug-test an employee who reports a bee sting, a repetitive strain injury, or an injury caused by a lack of machine guarding or a machine or tool malfunction.  Such a policy is likely only to deter reporting without contributing to the employer’s understanding of why the injury occurred, or in any other way contributing to workplace safety. “ 

So what are employers to do?  Modify your “blanket” post-accident drug testing policy before Aug. 10, 2016, unless “blanket” drug testing is required by another state or federal law.  Post-accident testing should only be used after the employer makes the determination (on a case-by-case basis) whether drug use may have been a contributing factor to the injury.


written by: Tom Scherrer, CSP, CFPS The Cornerstone Insurance Group, Loss Control Specialist


Posted in Commercial, OSHA, Risk management

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