Agency Says Post-Incident Drug Testing, Safety Incentives OK
Good news: OSHA is pulling back its previous stance on safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing – the guidance that left many safety pros confused. OSHA issued anti-retaliation guidance in 2016 that gave examples of safety incentives and post-accident drug testing as unlawful retaliation. The agency’s stance was safety incentive programs that rewarded employees for time periods without injuries, and blanket post-incident drug testing, could discourage workers from reporting injuries.
Memo reverses OSHA’s stance
A newly released OSHA memo intends to “clarify … that (the agency) does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing.” Post-incident drug testing and safety incentive programs will only be considered retaliatory when they seek to penalize a worker for reporting a work-related illness or injury. Bottom line: If you follow a few basic guidelines set by OSHA, you can still have incentive programs and post-incident drug testing without fear of facing OSHA citations.
Remember the small print
OSHA says, “most instances of workplace drug testing are permissible.” That includes testing to evaluate the root cause of workplace safety incidents. The caveat: Testing must be conducted consistently on any worker whose conduct may have caused the accident, not just the worker who was injured in the accident. OSHA now also permits safety incentive programs that offer a prize or bonus at the end of an injury-free month or time period. However, employers must use “adequate precautions” to ensure workers feel free to report injuries. Precautions include adding features to a program like rewards for workers who identify unsafe conditions, training that emphasizes anti-retaliation policies and evaluating workers’ willingness to report injuries.