Employers in Pennsylvania and around the country are required to report workplace accidents and injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a timely manner, and the safety agency began enforcing a new rule on Dec. 1 that takes aim at company policies and procedures that either discourages workers from reporting injuries or punishes them in some way for doing so. The anti-retaliation provisions also require employers to let their workers know about these rights by placing a poster provided by OSHA prominently in the workplace.
Under the new workplace safety rules, mandatory drug testing of injured workers could be interpreted as a violation. Employers must now reasonably believe that drug use played a role in causing a workplace accident before testing any of the workers involved. While federal and state regulations should still be complied with according to OSHA, routine drug testing policies that could lead to workers not reporting injuries or claiming that they were suffered outside work are discouraged.
The rule also tackles employer incentive plans that reward workers for staying injury-free or deter them from reporting accidents. OSHA asks employers instead to put policies into place that encourage employees to report unsafe working conditions or reward them for attending safety seminars. Another OSHA regulation requires employers with work forces of 250 or more to submit injury and accident reports electronically.
Some employers may prefer workplace accidents to remain unreported because they want to keep their workers’ compensation insurance premiums low, and fears over soaring overhead costs could also prompt them to contest the claims made by their injured employees. Attorneys with experience in these cases could help injured workers to avoid necessary delays and complications by checking their claims paperwork carefully and ensuring that their application is supported by appropriate medical evidence.