Employers with onsite medical professionals should be aware of recently issued medical mismanagement claims from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that aimed to prove violations of the general duty clause of the OSH Act. Bill Principe shared some insight on these claims and steps employers might take in an article published by SHRM Online on June 26, 2023.
The OSH Act’s general duty clause is meant to give OSHA a means to address hazards for which no specific standard currently exists, and the Administration has recently used medical mismanagement claims to assert violations. Medical mismanagement can include employers delaying evaluation, care or treatment of injured employees by a medical provider or employers prematurely returning injured workers to their regular jobs, among other issues that diminish medical treatment. Many acclaim that OSHA is increasingly using mismanagement claims to address ergonomics and repetitive motion injuries in the workplace.
"This is not really an expansion of the general duty clause," Principe said. "Medical mismanagement claims under the general duty clause were raised in citations in the 1990s and early 2000s when ergonomics was more of a focus of OSHA." He added that claims of medical mismanagement can be useful as a union-organizing tool.
Principe said employers' best defense against medical mismanagement claims is to carefully design their medical management process by:
- Training employees on how to recognize work-related symptoms of injuries and how to report those conditions.
- Providing onsite treatments that are designed and administered consistent with the written standing orders of a physician.
- Setting some limits on the duration of onsite treatment before the case must be reviewed by a physician or other licensed health care provider for a determination about the employee's continued treatment.
For the full article, please click here.