OSHA Delays Part of Electronic Reporting Rule

Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm

OSHA is delaying for three months enforcement of the agency's controversial new regulations banning some safety-incentive and drug-testing programs.

The announcement came one day after TRSA’s coalition of industry groups and employers filed a motion asking a federal judge to block the agency from enforcing the new requirements when the standard takes effect Aug. 10.

The new enforcement start date for the incentive and drug-testing provisions is Nov. 1, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said.

The standard sets general requirements for incentive programs so that employers don't discourage workers from informing supervisors of injuries and illnesses. The standard also says drug-testing programs, such as mandatory testing of injured workers, can't lead to workers deciding against filing a report.

The rule when initially proposed in 2013 focused on requirements that 466,000 employers with 20 or more workers would have to begin submitting to OSHA in 2017 electronic versions of their injury and illness logs. OSHA would then post the data, minus information that could identify individual workers, on its public website.

After unions and some employers said making the data public may lead to employers suppressing reports so that their injury and illness rates appear lower, OSHA added the provisions preventing employers from retaliating against workers and issued the final rule on May 12.

The complaint targets several provisions of the rule.

Specifically, OSHA ignored “the boundaries of the authority Congress delegated it in the OSH Act and invalidly seeks and exercises authority Congress explicitly refused to grant,” the complaint says.

In addition, the complaint says OSHA rushed the rulemaking. The rule is “unlawful because OSHA failed to provide interested parties with legally adequate notice of its intent to adopt a rule that would for the first time prohibit incident-based safety-incentive programs and/or routine, mandatory post-accident drug testing,” the complaint says.

With the new rule, OSHA can cite an employer, even if the worker didn't file a complaint.