Workplace safety is of the utmost importance in every industry and a worker’s rights are protected by regulations put in place by the Occupational Health and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Taking effect on January 1st, 2017, new regulations were put in place to improve the tracking of incidents and injuries, in addition to clarifying provisions to prevent retaliation from employers against employees reporting accidents. OSHA intends to make a portion of the data from the electronic submissions accessible to the public. By doing so, OSHA aims to improve reporting accuracy and give workers confidence that there won’t be retaliation from their employer.
Desire for transparency influenced new regulations
OSHA references “behavioral economics” as an influence in its new rules, specifically that making injury data publicly available will add an extra incentive for employers to increase their focus on workplace safety. In addition to using public discourse to improve workplace safety, OSHA believes it will provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. In addition to publishing some of the findings from this data, OSHA aims to use their analysis to enforce compliance assistance resources more efficiently.
Preventing employer retaliation
The protections in place for workers from retaliation should not be undervalued. Workplace accidents happen, whether from fatigue or exposure to toxic chemicals, and workers have the right to compensation for their injuries. The rule itself requires that employers inform employees of their right to report injuries, such as by posting the already-required OSHA workplace poster, and that the procedure for reporting does not deter employees from doing so. This new rule incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
Retaliation can come in a variety of forms. It can be procedures that complicate the reporting process or disciplinary action under the guise of violating a rule. An example they provide is being written up following a bee sting for violating a rule requiring that workers “maintain situational awareness.” This is a violation because discipline regarding this rule is only enforced following the report of an injury. However, it would not be retaliation if discipline is given following an injury that occurred when the employee bypasses in-place safety procedures and said employer has a history of enforcing the rule whether an injury occurred or not.
Employer retaliation is not always a black and white issue. Were you or a loved one injured at work and faced disciplinary action as a result? You may have been a victim of employer retaliation, and we want to make sure your rights are protected. Call (866) 326-0100 today for a free consultation. At O'Malley & Langan, our experienced Northeastern Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorneys have the knowledge and resources to make a meaningful difference for our clients.