OSHA Has Updated its Regulations for Post-Accident Drug Testing

Late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new regulations relating to reporting and recording occupational illnesses and injuries. These regulations protect workers from creating disincentives to reporting an occupational injury or illness or from retaliation by an employer for a worker seeking treatment for an injury.

In a general sense, drug and alcohol testing after an accident is still permitted. That said, the employer must demonstrate a “reasonable possibility” that drugs or alcohol are fully or partially to blame for the accident, the injury, or the illness. This does not apply to situations where drug-testing is mandatory, such as for certain federal employees or workers subject to federal drug testing requirements.

OSHA still considers post-accident drug testing to be a reasonable strategy to assist with workplace safety. It is a way for employers to make sure that their workplaces are as safe as possible for everyone. However, employers need to be aware that they cannot have a blanket drug-testing policy for every workplace injury or illness. The situation must meet the requirement that there is a reasonable possibility that drugs or alcohol played a part. Supervisors and managers should be trained in what constitutes a reasonable possibility, and reporting processes should reflect this definition as well.

It is important to remember consider the following when determining whether a drug test has met the standard for a reasonable possibility.

How serious was the outcome of the accident? If a motor vehicle is involved, any commercial vehicle on a public roadway, resulting in the need for towing, a treatable injury or a fatality must always result in a drug and alcohol test.

For employers with a Reasonable Suspicion policy, drug and alcohol testing, is there reason to conclude that drugs or alcohol may have been a factor?

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