How New Anti-Retaliation Laws Can Affect Your Business
A contractor has to be concerned with federal and state laws that could invite risk in situations where risk is a touchy subject. OSHA has recently announced that it is going to be altering its anti-retaliation laws which are designed to encourage workers to report accidents and any behavior that is not part of the company’s safety guidelines. But there are a few provisions in the anti-retaliation laws that you need to prepare for that could affect the level of risk your company is asked to assume.
The Issues With The Anti-Retaliation Laws
The new anti-retaliation laws will make it illegal for construction companies to test workers who were involved in worksite accidents for drugs or alcohol unless it was obvious that drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident. It will also prevent companies from testing workers for drugs or alcohol who report illnesses or other types of injuries.
OSHA contends that using the threat of drug testing after an accident will prevent workers from reporting accidents and injuries as they occur. Contractors contend that without the right kind of testing, they have no way of protecting other workers from any potential threat a negligent worker may pose who is abusing alcohol or drugs while working.
The new laws are set to kick in this year, and contractors are also being required to submit a comprehensive plan to OSHA that encourages workers to report accidents as they occur. Contractors have to submit their new plans to OSHA 90 days after the laws have been enacted.
You Must Work With OSHA
When it comes to reducing risk, no organization is more proactive than OSHA. We always recommend that our clients get their safety inspectors OSHA certified, and that they follow OSHA safety guidelines closely on every job. But these new laws are creating issues for our clients that throw off the balance between protecting a jobsite and following OSHA laws. There are steps your company can take that will help you to keep your jobsites safe and allow you to follow OSHA’s new guidelines.
Step Up Your Jobsite Documentation
Since OSHA is taking away a standard test done to see if workers involved in accidents pose future threats to jobsite safety, it is up to your company to have the documentation on-hand that can help to keep your workers safe. Speak with an attorney about jobsite video surveillance that will allow you to keep an eye on each aspect of your job and learn the facts about what lead up to an accident.
You need to enhance your job documentation to include specific details that lead up to accidents and worker discipline situations. Once again, it is important to work with your attorney to be sure that you are creating jobsite documentation policies that are within the law, but still protect you and your workers.
Both OSHA and your company are dedicated to the protection of your employees. But OSHA has developed laws intended to encourage workers to report accidents that could, if not handled properly by your company, blind your company to potential future problems.
As with any part of risk management, the key is identifying the issue and being able to plan for it well in advance. The idea of asking contractors to develop more comprehensive guidelines for reporting accidents is a move that OSHA should be applauded for. But your company needs to be proactive if it is going to maintain safe working environments in the wake of the new OSHA anti-retaliation laws.