Caution: Do Your Safety Incentive Programs Violate OSHA's Whistleblower Rules?
On March 12, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memo detailing the agency’s policy regarding safety incentive and disincentive policies that can discourage employee reports of injuries which may violate section 11(c), or other whistleblower statutes.
An internal policy memo provides guidance to Regional Administrators and Enforcement Officials on how to apply OSHA policies and procedures when handling investigations.
The memo includes what OSHA considers the most common potentially discriminatory policies. The following are examples of those policies:
- Policies of taking disciplinary action against employees who are injured on the job, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the injury.
- Employees who reports an injury or illness is disciplined, and the stated reason is that the employee has violated an employer rule about the time or manner for reporting injuries and illnesses.
- Employees report an injury, and the employer imposes discipline on grounds that the injury resulted from the violation of a vague safety rule such as a requirement that employees “maintain situational awareness” or “work carefully” may be manipulated and used as a pretext for unlawful discrimination.
- Employers establish programs that unintentionally or intentionally provide employees an incentive to not report injuries such as entering all employees who have not been injured in the previous year in a drawing to win a prize, or a team of employees might be awarded a bonus if no one from the team is injured over some period of time.
OSHA also suggested in the memo that the potential for unlawful discrimination under all of these policies may increase when management or supervisory bonuses are linked to lower reported injury rates.
To view the memo from OSHA's website click here.
Posted on Wed, April 4, 2012
by Leslie Rex Stockel, CSP