It’s long been a subject of debate among safety pros: Do safety incentive programs reduce injuries, or do they encourage workers not to report when they get hurt? It seems OSHA has weighed in on the issue, buried within a directive for its inspectors.
Last week, OSHA announced a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on recordkeeping.
The agency wants to find out whether the nation’s workplace injury rate is really at its lowest point ever as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
BLS uses reports issued by employers to tabulate the injury rate.
OSHA’s targets in this NEP: Facilities in high-injury industries that have much lower-than-average injuries. The theory: Some of these employers are under-reporting injuries.
OSHA told it’s inspectors on this NEP to ask employees about their company’s safety incentive programs, specifically if they may discourage reporting of injuries. The inspectors will interview a minimum of 10 employees, more if the facility has over 100 workers.
Inspectors have been told to obtain copies of these incentive programs and note their existence in their reports.
While the guidelines say most recordkeeping violations uncovered through this NEP will be classified as “other-than-serious” violations, the citations may also be raised to the willful level when inspectors can document deliberate under-reporting.
Existence of incentive programs may be used to back up raising a recordkeeping violation to the willful level.
What’s your theory on safety incentive programs? How can a company develop an incentive program that reduces injuries yet doesn’t discourage reporting of incidents? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.
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