In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a regulation that effectively prohibited employer safety incentive programs as well as post-incident drug testing programs. Safety incentive programs are a highly effective tool to get employees and supervisors immediately invested in workplace safety and have a proven record of promoting and maintaining safer workplaces. In addition, post-incident drug tests are critical to investigating and determining whether drugs or alcohol were the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed workers. At the time, OSHA said it was doing so because of concerns about underreporting. Whatever OSHA’s rationale and however well-intentioned it may have been, the fact remains that this regulation and accompanying guidance simply made it even harder for manufacturers to ensure safe and drug-free workplaces—and that’s not something any of us should want.
So the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) spoke out, took action and sued OSHA to rescind this confusing and counterproductive regulation. Most recently, the NAM and 27 Council of Manufacturing Associations filed comments calling for change. Because we did, OSHA decided just last week to once again allow employers to use these important tools—a positive step in bringing certainty in safety policies back to the manufacturing floor.
Last Thursday, October 11, OSHA issued a new memorandum under which manufacturers may once again use post-incident drug testing under specific parameters and properly designed safety incentive programs to accomplish the important mission of promoting workplace safety. We applaud OSHA for taking this step and look forward to working together to fully empower employers to use these methods to achieve a safer workplace. While the NAM believes there is more to be done to fully correct the problems caused in the 2016 regulation, we thank OSHA for taking this big step to reequip employers with the necessary tools to prioritize and promote safer workplaces.