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OSHA memo warns of discriminating injury-reporting policies

March 21, 2012

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Washington – A new memorandum from assistant OSHA administrator Richard Fairfax seeks to provide guidance to agency field officers and whistleblower investigators on employer practices that discourage injury reporting by employees.

The March 12 memo advises OSHA regional administrators and whistleblower program managers to be aware of four potentially discriminating policies employers may have regarding an employee who reports an on-the-job injury:

  • Taking disciplinary action regardless of the circumstances of the injury
  • Disciplining an employee for violating an employer rule about the time or manner for reporting injuries and illnesses
  • Disciplining an employee for an injury that resulted from the employee violating a safety rule
  • Offering incentives to not report injuries; for example, offering prizes to employees who were not injured in the previous year

Such policies could discourage reporting of injuries and could be considered unlawful discrimination, Fairfax said in the memo. Retaliation against an employee for reporting an occupational injury is a violation of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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