People get hurt on the job all the time. However, not everyone reports their injuries. Previously, employers usually administered drug tests after an injury. A new law has created penalties for employers doing this.
Many employers immediately implement a drug and alcohol test after a work incident. The problem with this is that many people who were not impaired at the time of an incident will be subjected to a violation of their privacy. Some may even avoid filing a claim at all to avoid this invasion of privacy. This can lead to more detrimental injuries, and it can lead to unsafe conditions in the work place.
The New Law
Injuries need to be reported so that employees can be kept safe. In order to encourage more people to file workers compensation claims when injured, The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) has recently implemented a new law that prevents employers from issuing a drug test unless they can show evidence that there was reason to believe the employee was impaired during the incident. On May 12th, 2016, the new law was introduced. It will be largely enforced starting August 10th, 2016.
When It’s OK to Drug Test
The problem with drug tests is that they can accurately determine whether an employee has used drugs recently. However, a drug test cannot measure the impairment of the employee at the time of the incident. A person’s injuries could possibly be mismanaged by a drug test that was not an accurate depiction of the employee’s state at the time of the accident.
It is easier for alcohol test to determine impairment if there is reason for the employer to think that the employee is under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
The employer is the one with the burden to prove that the employee was under the influence at the time of the incident. Proof can include witness statements, video evidence of stumbling or other problems with coordination, or admission of intoxication by the injured party.
Legal, random drug testing is still legal. An employer may still opt to make employees submit to a drug test randomly. The drug test cannot be retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim or any other legal behavior.
Employers that do decide to go against this new law will be subject to penalties. Currently, unintentional violations are charged with a $7,000 fine and intentional violations are charged with a $70,000 fine. Starting August 10th, unintentional violations will be charged with a $12,471 fine. Intentional violations are charged with a $124,712 fine. This makes it beneficial for employers to take this new law seriously.
OSHA’s new law is being implemented because employers should not have to be in fear of injury reporting on the job. Reasonable reasons to drug test an injured employee will still be protected. The employer simply has to prove the reasoning behind the drug testing. The goal of this law is to keep employees safe and open with their employers about work injuries. If an injury is handled properly, the employee will be more productive in the future.
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