Safety Program Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Posted by bop-admin on Mar 23, 2016 2:03:29 PM

REWARD: $100 Bonus For No Work Injuries
Beware: The good intentions of this bonus plan can backfire.

CTA OSHA-Safety-Checklist-calendarRewarding “No Injuries” increases a company’s risk of potential Workers' Compensation and Disability Discrimination and Retaliation claims.

Some employers try to create a safe workplace by rewarding employees when there are no work-related injuries. This is a mistake. While you certainly want to motivate employees to follow your safety procedures, you do not want to incentivize employees to hide injuries and accidents—or to refrain from filing a claim.

Encouraging “no injuries” tells employees that they should downplay their injuries or keep them quiet. It could cause the appearance that having an injury will be frowned upon and cause discrimination and retaliation for having that injury and/or disability.

It may be well-meaning, but it’s still a form of pressure that exposes you to liability and increases the chances of repeated and aggravated injuries. "No Injury" rewards programs don’t make a safer workplace safer or reduce Workers' Compensation claims in the long-run.

OSHA Safety Guidelines Download

Similarly use caution when implementing a points system for attendance, as this may have the same potential affect of indirectly implying employees should keep injuries quiet. If absences for disabilities or Workers' Compensation injuries have a negative impact on the affected employees “points”, the points program could violate state and federal discrimination and retaliation laws as well. Employers need to document such attendance rewards programs and clearly communicate how points are awarded so employees understand the program and are discourage from reporting safety concerns or injuries.

Want a Safe Work Environment? Keep Safety Front and Center

If you talk a lot about safety, you’ll have a safer workplace. Just like developing a mantra for dedication to customer service or a slogan for employee performance standards, implementing consistent communication about safety will go a long way in keeping your workplace safer.

Some examples of common tools used to talk about safety:

1. Publish a monthly or quarterly newsletter.

Each edition could have an article on a specific safety or wellness topic, a fun quiz (with the chance to win prizes), a reminder of important company safety policies, and emergency contacts.

2. Provide employees with a form on which they can document and report safety concerns they’ve noticed.

This promotes employee involvement in proactive safety assessments of the workplace. For this practice to work, employees need to feel comfortable bringing concerns to your attention, without fear of retaliation, and be confident that you’ll address them.

3. Offer a monthly 10-15 minute training on a matter of safety or wellness.

And make them fun! You could have trainings on anything from avoiding sleep deprivation to the health costs of stress. Tie your elective safety training to the national safety calendar for consistent topics for your newsletter and training session. (Download Our Safety Calendar.)

4. Talk to your Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier or broker.

You can get good safety tips, trainings, and ideas from them, and you may even be able to get write-offs. Like you, they want to keep costs down, so they’ll likely appreciate your efforts to make safety a priority and do what they can to help.

These are tools that any organization can use, but remember that some industries have special trainings required by OSHA. Your goal should be to have a safe workplace, not to maintain a workplace with no or reduced recorded accidents or injuries. Keep safety and wellness on the minds of your employees, and you’ll go a long way toward making your workplace as safe as possible.

Need a safety strategy? Or a refreshed plan?

Download our Free OSHA Safety Guide to help you audit your safety program to find gaps. This helpful guide contains checklists to audit common safety standards and a seven-step guide to implementing a safety program. Do you just want to liven up or refresh your safety training? There is a fun training calendar full of several monthly safety observances that can help organize a training calendar to make designing your topics and communications simpler for a full year.

Topics: HR Compliance