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The new OSHA rule and workplace drug testing

Ohio workers should be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandate for the electronic submission of illness and injury data for certain employers. Included in the mandate was the assertion that the proper disclosing of workplace injuries and illnesses is inhibited by universally applied post-injury drug testing policies.

The rule stated that workers can view automatic drug testing as an intrusion into their privacy. The ever present requirement of being tested for drugs contributes to the underreporting of injuries and illnesses that were most likely not caused by an employee's impairment due to drug use. There is also the fact that depending on the type of drug test administered, a past occurrence of drug use could be what is detected instead of an impairment that contributed to the injury or illness. The rule further stated that the use of automatic drug testing regardless of whether alcohol or drugs could have played a role in a workplace incident could also be perceived as a form of intimidation.

When addressing the concerns of those who may believe that a ban on drug testing would be imminent, the rule stressed that there was no ban on employee drug testing. The purpose of the OSHA rule is to prevent employers from using drug testing as a way to deter employees from disclosing workplace illnesses and injuries. Effective drug testing policies should regulate post-incident drug testing to those circumstances in which drug or alcohol use by an employee was most likely the cause of the workplace incident.

The new OSHA rule is intended to ensure that workplace drug testing is used properly. If a workplace accident leads to injury or illness, an attorney may advise the victim on how to obtain workers' compensation.

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