OSHA has announced a second delay in its new rules on injury reporting. The change in reporting was released this summer and it include some controversial provisions aimed at punishing companies that OSHA feels discourage employees from reporting injuries. Those sections were supposed to go into effect in August, but in the face of a lawsuit and a great deal of opposition from industry OSHA delayed enforcement until November first.
Now OSHA has delayed the implementation yet again, this time until December 1. The reason was a request from a federal judge in Texas who asked for more time to consider whether to grant an injunction against OSHA.
At the heart of the controversy is OSHA’s belief that some companies discourage employees from reporting injuries or that they may punish employees that do report. The new regulations allow OSHA to cite companies if it finds the companies make it difficult to report, threaten employees who report or take steps to retaliate after a report. One of the most surprising positions OSHA has taken is that blanket drug and alcohol testing may discourage reporting, so it should not be used, except as warranted.
The delay may simply mean that industry has another 30 days to come into compliance. Or it may mean that the court is wrestling with serious issues surrounding the rule change and may ultimately block the new regulations.
That said, companies should review their policies to ensure that they properly communicate to employees that they do have a right to report injuries and that the company wants to encourage reporting.
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