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Employers must follow new injury reporting rule

Pennsylvania companies have new injury reporting obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new Reporting Rule. Enforcement of the rule began on Dec. 1, but certain provisions did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017. The rule concerns injury reporting obligations as well as anti-retaliation measures.

One of the anti-retaliation provisions in the Reporting Rule requires employers to let their employees know that they are free to report injuries without fear of retaliation. To comply with this provision, employers can find an 'It's the Law" poster on the OSHA website and place the poster where all of their employees can see it. Another anti-retaliation provision in the Reporting Rule bars employers from offering incentives to their employees that may discourage the employees from reporting injuries.

A provision in the Reporting Rule concerning post-accident drug testing has been controversial among employers. Many employers have a policy of performing automatic drug tests when employees are injured, but this could be a violation of the Reporting Rule's anti-retaliation provisions. According to OSHA, employees may be less likely to report injuries if they know that they will be drug tested every time. Employers are now required to have a reasonable suspicion that drug use led to an accident before they can drug test an employee.

Eligible workers who are injured on the job have the right to claim workers' compensation benefits even if they were at fault for the accident. Attorneys who are assisting them with their claims will also note that retaliation against the exercise of this right is prohibited.

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