A proposed new rule from OSHA seems to be the kind of important concept that the agency would have incorporated into its rule book a long time ago. The rule says that employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report a workplace injury. The policy is part of a new drive by the federal agency to track electronically the occurrence of on-the-job injury and occupational injuries in all of the states, including Colorado.
It’s known that in some companies and industries, there are both subtle and not-so-subtle techniques that employers use to discourage the reporting of physical injury at work. The worker may receive implied threats, for example, that they will lose their seniority or even their job if they report an injury. In other instances, mind games and other peer pressure dynamics may be used to keep reporting of work injury down.
Some employees may even receive promotions or bonuses for not having any reported accidents. That, of course, directly intimidates the worker who is in dire need of medical care and disability benefits for a period of time. However, it is notably only a small minority of employers who adopt such improper and illegal tactics. Probably the biggest motive behind these improper employer actions is the concern with running up large workers’ compensation insurance expenses.
It’s somewhat surprising that the federal agency has not already passed such prohibitions against retaliation. The federal civil rights rules prohibiting discrimination in employment also prohibit employer retaliation against an employee who reports discrimination. Furthermore, virtually every state, including Colorado, has statutory prohibitions against retaliation by employers against employees who have reported workplace injury. Despite OSHA being somewhat late in its concerns, it’s hopeful to see these considerations now being adopted. One purpose of the electronic tracking will be the agency’s ability to see where problems and patterns may exist.
Source: The Hill, “OSHA warns companies over workplace injuries and illnesses“, Tim Devaney, Aug. 13, 2014