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OSHA's position on mandatory drug tests after work accidents

Many New Jersey employers in New Jersey test for drug and alcohol intoxication after employees are injured in work accidents. Though the mandatory drug and alcohol testing policy is common, employers may be risking steep fines by keeping it in place. Earlier in 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule that effectively banned the policy of routine post-accident drug tests.

OSHA's final rule on electronic reporting of workplace injuries amended the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses rule. In the rule, OSHA requires employers to have a reasonable procedure that does not deter or discourage employees from reporting injuries that they sustain in the workplace. Employers are also obligated to tell employees about their right to report injuries and illnesses without any fear of retaliation.

OSHA included comments on the final rule that specifically addressed the issue of routine drug testing after work accidents. The agency pointed out that there is a wealth of evidence that shows that these post-accident drug tests deter workers from reporting injuries and illnesses. It said that post-accident drug and alcohol tests could be used in some situations where they are warranted as long as there is not a policy of testing employees after every accident. Employers that violate OSHA's injury and illness reporting rule could face steep fines.

Unfortunately, some employees go to great efforts to try and deter an injured employee from filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney can often be of assistance in helping workers in this position to assert their rights under the law.

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