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OSHA postpones enforcement of new rule

Illinois workers as well as their employers may want to know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has postponed the enforcement of the illness and injury record-keeping rule that it had issued earlier in 2016 to Dec.1. This is so that any misunderstanding regarding the post-accident testing of employees can be corrected. There is also a chance that the legal opposition initiated by certain employer groups could prevent the rules from being enforced on that date.

The confusion regarding post-accident testing centered on the protection offered against retaliation by employers against employees who report injuries. Employers claimed that OSHA seemed to ban post-accident drug testing with the understanding that it could be used to threaten employees to not report an injury.

OSHA has issued clarifications that state the citations will not be issued for drug testing required by federal or state statutes or by state-level workers' compensation laws. The agency stated that employers are not forbidden from drug testing employees with work-related injuries and illnesses as long as there is an objective reason. The agency also stated that the drug testing rule does not apply to testing employees for the presence of drugs for other reasons.

While some legal professionals laud that the OSHA drug testing clarifications is helpful for employers who have to abide by federal and state drug testing laws, others do not agree. They advise caution as the actual wording of the regulation is brief and is not as explanatory or expansive as the interpretations issued by OSHA would lead some to believe.

Employees who are injured in a workplace accident and who are eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation have the legal right to do so and to be free from any retaliatory action taken by their employer. People who have been the subject of an adverse employment decision after filing a claim or reporting an injury might want to meet with an attorney to discuss how best to proceed.

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