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OSHA, Commit to the Reality of Safety; Not Just Rulemaking!

By Rick Galbreath 2 years ago

I am an OSHA supporter.  I’ve been doing safety consulting and training for decades. I’ve seen with my own eyes, time after time, that good safety practices really do reduce injuries, save employers money and heartache.

Even though safety is important, sometimes OSHA gets confused and goes the wrong way.  When they do, it can be a whopper of a mistake; as is the case now.

In May, OSHA published a rule requiring employers in high risk industries (the list is quite long!!!) who have 20 or more employees and all employers over 250 employees to electronically report work related injury and illnesses beginning in 2017. This provision has already gotten much negative press. While I think this new requirement is more intrusive than necessary, I can at least understand OSHA’s perspective in asking for the information electronically (much sooner than they would have otherwise gotten it).

What has been missed by the popular press so far, however, is a far more onerous new concept ensconced in the OSHA enforcement landscape. According to OSHA, “blanket” (meaning universally and uniformly administered) post-accident drug and alcohol testing is a form of retaliation against those who have work related injuries. The fear of being retaliated against (of the employer finding out an employee is using illegal drugs or that is under the influence of alcohol while at work and taking an adverse action against them) will cause some workers not to report injuries.  As a result, OSHA will now begin fining employers with “blanket” policies.

OSHA, friend, please listen, ok?  Drug and alcohol use are some of the main causes of workplace injuries.  Employers need to know who has gotten hurt so that we can take proper steps to ensure these employees’ misbehavior doesn’t further endanger themselves or other.  This is the reality of safety – we need to identify and properly deal with risks.

The concept you espouse, in this case, is totally wrong-minded.  It sounds like someone concocted a theory without truly understanding its impact.  Please rethink this.

To Employers:  Since this rule is now on the books, you should begin to take steps to reduce your organization’s opportunity for citation and fine.  I will blog on some ways to do this as time goes along.


Rick Galbreath, SPHR





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