OSHA has proposed making it easier to take action against companies that discourage employees from reporting injuries.
Last fall, OSHA proposed a rule to make some changes to the way employee injuries are tracked and reported:
- Employers would have to submit their reports electronically, and
- These records would be made available on OSHA’s website.
During public meetings held on the subject in January, participants expressed concerns that posting the reports for companies online might cause employers to under-record injuries. One way that could happen: Employers could discourage injury reports from employees.
- require that employers inform employees of their right to report injuries
- require injury reporting to be done in a way that isn’t “unduly burdensome,” and
- prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees for reporting injuries.
The third proposal is a potential biggie.
Currently, OSHA can’t take action against an employer unless an employee files a complaint about retaliation for reporting an injury.
Under the new proposal, OSHA would be able to cite an employer for taking adverse action against an employee for reporting an injury even if the employee didn’t file a complaint. That action could include fines and an abatement order.
What counts as ‘unduly burdensome?’
OSHA wonders whether some company policies might discourage employees from reporting injuries. Examples:
- if the employer penalizes employees for failing to report an injury within a specific time period even if the employees didn’t realize they were injured at the time
- reporting procedures that are too cumbersome (lots of paperwork to fill out)
- requiring an employee who reported an injury to undergo drug testing where there was no reason to suspect drug use, and
- only enforcing certain safety rules for employees who are injured.