New Memo from OSHA Clarifies Injury Reporting and Incentive Policies
Incentive programs – are they good or bad?
“While many employers want to reward workers for safe behavior, there’s a thin line between appropriate recognition and providing a disincentive to employees for reporting injuries. Companies that cross that line could be violating the law,”
- According to a new memo sent to OSHA regional administrators and whistle-blower program managers from Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax.
Your incentive and recognition program might not pass OSHA’s test if “the incentive involved is of sufficient magnitude that failure to receive it ‘might have dissuaded reasonable workers from’” reporting, says Farifax.
Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because the employee reports an injury or illness … Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c). Other whistleblower statutes enforced by OSHA also may protect employees
who report workplace injuries.
According to Fairfax, employees who do not feel free to report injuries or illnesses place the entire work force at risk. Employers do not learn of and correct dangerous conditions that have resulted in injuries, and injured employees may not receive the proper medical attention or the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled. “Ensuring that employees can report injuries or illnesses without fear of retaliation is therefore crucial to protecting worker safety and health,” says Fairfax.
To read more about incentive policies and practices at issue, click HERE>>
There are 5 key components to a properly structured safety incentive program, according to Safety Jackpot:
Component #1: Use an entire campaign to promote your program, building teamwork and interaction with your employees. Build in smaller prizes everyone can win and toss in grand prize awards that the program builds up to.
Component #2: Use frequent reinforcement. Establish an award vehicle that is handed out weekly. This could contain points and a trading component – game cards are a fun approach. Using a flexible point vehicle to reward/award for weekly prevention behaviors to discourage under-reporting.
Component #3: Award merchandise rather than cash. Give an employee a $20 bill as a reward and where is it spent? At the grocery store or maybe at the gas station. Will the employee even remember? Develop a fun game-based program and build trophy value by offering a choice of merchandise items they want – not need – because it simply works better.
Component #4: Promote the program. Posters, caps, balloons, newsletters, flyers, parties, and drawings grab their attention – dare to be different, you can’t do enough!
Component #5: Make everyone a winner. And it won’t cost you more – when you run the numbers, you’ll find the return on investment is far greater.
On the other hand, here is a list of ten things NOT to do when utilizing and incentives program with your workforce, according to Northstar Travel Media LLC:
Mistake #1: Ignoring your history - Don’t create a reward program without knowing your company’s past history with rewards. Rewards can be misused and misdirected, and if a negative view is held, you need to correct that image.
Mistake #2: Neglecting to measure before you apply - Do not select the financial/tangible rewards or incentives without first identifying the appropriate behaviors to be rewarded. Some results require financial or tangible rewards and some behaviors can be changed only with social reinforcement.
Mistake #3: Basing KPIs on assumptions - Don’t presume you know what behaviors should be rewarded to produce the desired business results. Observe and speak with the front-line manager and employees and observe their performance to identify the behaviors you need to address.
Mistake #4: Ignoring objective metrics - Know both the objectives of your reward program and how you will measure them. Make sure you look at objective metrics, as well as subjective measures of effectiveness.
Mistake #5: Rewarding the wrong behaviors - Don’t reward the wrong things. Is it safe practices you want, or on-time safety reports with reduced accidents? What you reward is what you’ll get.
Mistake #6: Not getting feedback from employees - Reward programs work best when they incorporate employee and manager input. Find out if the reward makes an impact with the employees. Ask the recipients what is or is not working and apply these key principles to correct for the future.
Mistake #7: Not paying attention to results - Don’t create a problematic reward system. If you are not getting the behaviors you want, you are not using the right rewards or awarding them in the right way.
Mistake #8: Not connecting the dots - Provide individuals who earn rewards for exceptional performance with the specific reasons for the rewards. Knowing why you received a reward encourages future positive behavior.
Mistake #9: Not giving recognition uplift - Don’t forget to provde meaningful, sincere recognition with rewards. Tell the recipient specifically what they did and how that made a difference.
Mistake #10: Not presenting rewards well - Don’t just make rewards a transaction. Take the time to honor the recipient publicly or in person to build relationships.