The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) monitors job-related injuries and disciplines employers with higher injury rates than other employers in their industries.
Employees often are reluctant to report injuries at work since they fear repercussions. However, it’s vital to encourage employees to report injuries because when they are not reported, dangerous situations and practices continue to occur. Rewarding employees for their activities in preventing accidents is one of the best ways to encourage them to become proactive about your company safety program.
Why It’s Important
If you reward employees for a good safety record, they are more inclined to avoid reporting injuries. It is better to reward them for completing safety training or participating in safety-related committees that meet regularly to identify workplace hazards or investigate incidents that could have resulted in injury. The goal is to create an effective accident prevention program rather than reward the lack of accidents and injuries. Anything resulting in an employee’s reluctance to immediately report a workplace injury violates whistleblower protection laws, even though the employee fails to report out of a desire to win a safety award.
How to Encourage
Offer rewards for spotting dangerous situations, broken machinery or other health hazards. Create safety certification programs and institute regular safety training sessions focusing on safe operation of machinery, procedures for lifting heavy objects, handling hazardous materials and other safety skills.
Consider giving employees completion badges and gift card awards if they become certified by taking and passing a certain number of safety courses. Give recognition to employees who use proper safety equipment or demonstrate other safe workplace behavior.
If there is an accident, react positively. Commend the person who reports the accident to the company medical staff or takes other immediate proper actions. Have an employee committee investigate the accident and make recommendations for how to avoid future accidents. Accident prevention is your best practice, but proper handling of injury reports removes the fear and stigma employees normally associate with reporting work injuries.
OSHA investigations have caught employers punishing injured employees for violating company safety rules or punishing employees for reporting other employees’ injuries. Not all such programs meet OSHA standards, and some well-intentioned programs are illegal. An underground culture of deceit regarding unsafe working conditions could grow at your company and eventually result in a serious disaster.
Hold monthly slogan contests, safety drills and department checks and celebrate instances of prevented accidents. Employee safety and health should always be a top priority. Injuries happen, but it’s how you respond that will dictate the outcome.
The immediate steps after an injury should be seeking medical attention, filing a report, cooperating with workers’ compensation, and welcoming the employee feedback. You can try your best to protect your company, but not all incidents can be avoided. With that being said, it’s how you respond after an injury takes place that will ultimately determine the outcome of the situation.