OSHA Turning Up the Heat on Safety Incentives

 

 
 
OSHA has just put the word out that they will be scrutinizing safety incentives. Does this mean to stop any incentive program? NO, but it is a good time to review present incentive plans or one being considered in order to be sure it does not unintentionally reward non-reporting.


If there is a plan that rewards for low or no reported injuries, those injured will be likely to avoid the standard golden rule of “report any injuries to your supervisor immediately.” The employee who reports an injury and keeps the team from making the grade for an incentive of any type will likely take some real or perceived grief from his co-workers who were not injured. [WCx]


Below are just a few types of incentive programs that can have this effect.


1.The team or department who has the least reported injuries gets a bonus.
2.Employees who have no reported injuries over a set period of time get a bonus.
3.Department heads or supervisors receive a bonus or promotion consideration for lowest number of  recordable injuries.
4.Individual employees receive “points” or credits that can be used for time off, material goods, or cash for a time period of no injuries.


Bottom line, these are easy to spot due to the reward for non-reporting. Of course, it is easy to see how these could keep an employee from reporting an injury. This can lead to even greater costs down the road when the injury worsens and the worker can no longer ignore the symptoms.


So what type of incentive program works and will pass the muster with OSHA? Incentives that directly reward the worker for safe actions have many benefits. I have been a long time proponent of this type of incentive.
 

Incentive Programs
 
Here are some examples of incentive programs that I have personally witnessed that produce desired outcomes. They are popular with employees, provide some healthy competition for safe and productive work, and have no negatives that OSHA can pick on. The individual type of work, pay level, and other factors will determine which is best for your firm.


o   Give front line supervisors some petty cash. When they observe an employee doing things safely or efficiently they can reward directly with cash. This presents an opportunity for rewarding desired good behaviors.


o   Choose to print some reward certificates that can be used instead of cash. This way the worker can save up points or “safety bucks” for material goods or other rewards. Remember it is the attachment to reportable injuries that is the problem. As long as desired behaviors are being rewarded and not reportable injuries, you the employer on solid ground.


o   I have found that the best way to choose what reward to give for safe actions is to ask the employees. It will be surprising to see the strongest motivators.


o   Balance incentive with discipline. If you are using a point system, ensure workers can have points subtracted for things like minor PPE violations. I do warn here this can be tricky, so only use this system for minor issues. More serious violations must remain in the normal company discipline program and be documented as such.


The best source for finding the right reward is with the employees. A quick example is when a safety committee carried out this task and was pleased to find the number one incentive employees desired was a parking spot. This particular firm had the ‘employee parking’ far from the front door and management had several spots near the front. So a weekly contest began for the safest employee. The employee got to park right next to the CEO for that next week. This was nearly 15 years ago, and to this day it is one of the most effective incentives I have encountered. The company was prepared and had authorized several thousand dollars for the incentive program. The moral here is money is not the only motivator; status and recognition are strong motivators as well.


I include a link here to the OSHA Memorandum on incentive programs. http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/whistleblowermemo.html OSHA also goes on to warn about taking action against any worker who is disciplined or let go for being injured on the job. Review the information on whistleblowers; it is clear that this is a major part of this recent action. In the case of whistleblowers this is a whole new subject that will be covered in future issues.


Always maintain a consistent discipline program. I find most companies have a need to upgrade the progressive discipline program and properly document unsafe or unacceptable behavior. Finding the need for a consistent and well documented progressive discipline program is the number one most common problem I find. The root causes for this are many and vary from supervisors who want to be ‘the nice guy,” to lack of management commitment and/or incomplete supervisor training.[WCx]


OSHA will be focusing on this and the edict has come down from above. OSHA is increasing the “heat”. Lack of resources has them looking more to whistleblowers and other credible reports of deficiencies. I see no relief coming. Now is the time to review your entire program. OSHA compliance officers I speak with assure me the pressure is on them to be more aggressive in all areas of enforcement. There has never been a time in my career that I have seen a greater need for tightening up all aspects of your company policies and procedures.


Brian Hill is owner of OshaSure in Birmingham Alabama, and has over 20 years as a workplace safety and risk consultant. Brian was previously a pilot for a major US airline and member of the company’s interdepartmental safety committee. He found his new career in safety after the closing of the airline in 1991. Brian has found the same passion he had for flying in assisting companies with safety, heath and risk issues.
For more information click on www.oshasure.com You can contact Brian at 205-296-0601 or at oshasurebh@aol.com


 


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©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

A Better Approach to Safety Includes Pre-Work Exercises

In the November issue of Risk and Insurance magazine is a very interesting article on a better approach to safety. The article is about how the magazine selected Honda Manufacturing of Indiana for their PreVent Award.  The premise of the safety article is trusting the employee to be a part of accident prevention.

 
The article explains how Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motors “was adamant about protecting the individual in the workplace.” This philosophy is followed by Honda Manufacturing of Indiana.  The company strives to give the employees both “the physical and mental training to be prepared to do their jobs effectively and safely.” (WCxKit)
 
 
When new employees are hired, they do not start work immediately.  Instead, they are provided a two week physical conditioning program emphasizing exercises to simulate the movements they will be required to perform on the job.  The program also teaches the employee how to position the body in the best way for job performance in an ergonomically correct manner.  If there are any doubts, please note the employees who complete this physical training have an 80% lower injury rate than employees who did not complete the physical training program.
 
 
The lead safety person at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana credits this ‘whole person approach’ with the effectiveness of their program, plus the company’s safety program has strong support from the upper management.  When Honda was constructing the plant that opened in 2008, the safety program was consulted to build ergonomically correct processes into the production.  Honda allows each manufacturing plant to structure its own safety program around the belief that the local personnel know their own facility better than anyone else.
 
 
The employees are encouraged to use the physical conditioning program outside of the workplace, plus the employees are taught to monitor their own stress and fatigue levels. They are taught how off the job stress can put them at an increase of injury on the job.
 
 
The safety program at Honda is based on the premise that the employee knows the job better than anyone.  The employees know what the hazards are and what causes stress on their body which can ultimately hurt them.  Honda takes the approach of listening to the employees, trusting what the employees have to say about performing their jobs safely, and using that guidance to create safe working conditions. By listening to the employees and implementing safety recommendations, Honda created a safer working environment. 
 
 
When Risk and Insurance magazine was considering various companies for the PreVent Award, it was looking for companies that implement safety programs to prevent work place injuries and provide a safe working environment.  The magazine was looking for employers that were proactive in injury prevention beyond the traditional safety and loss control programs. 
 
 
The criterion for the PreVent Award which is given each November includes
 
1.Total Injury Prevention Focus – which starts with recognizing all potential sources of workplace injuries including suboptimal equipment, inefficient work processes, excessive repetitive motions, poor body mechanics and/or ergonomically incorrect processes.
 
2. Risk Assessment – identifying all potential risk that can lead to injuries
 
3. Proactive Approach – comprehensive strategies to address losses and prevent them from reoccurring. (WCxKit)
 
 
We strongly support safety as a primary means of reducing workers compensation cost.  For more information on how to improve your safety program, please contact us.

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

14 Safety Rules to Better Manufacturing Facility Safety

Factories are often thought of as dangerous places to work. But, that is wrong if the factory has a proper safety program in place. The creation of a safety program for a factory is not much more difficult that creating a safety program for any other type of business.

 

 

The success of any safety program relies on the emphasis safety is given within the company. A company culture of safety that originates with the senior management of the company, with the safety culture being promoted all the way down through the ranks of the company, will have a major impact on the safety record of a factory. (WCxKit)

 

 

The safety guidelines for factories are similar to the safety guidelines in many other industries. Key factory safety guidelines include:

 

  1. All employees will wear all required safety gear, safety glasses, and safety clothing for their job/position while at their workstation.
  2. All employees working around moving machinery are prohibited from wearing loose clothing or loose jewelry.
  3. All employees working around moving machinery must have long hair tied back where it can not fall forward or be caught in the machinery.
  4. All tools will be in use or will be stored at their proper location at all times, no tools are to be left in any location where they are not being used or being stored.
  5. All equipment, tools and machinery are to be kept clean and in full working condition, with any defects being immediately reported to maintenance.
  6. The instruction manuals for all machinery must be readily available for review.
  7. All equipment and machinery is to be shut down when not in use.
  8. All presses and machinery will require two hand operation to keep fingers and hands away from moving part.
  9. All machinery is to have the manufacturer’s installed safety guards.
  10. No machinery is to be modified by any employee who is not specifically trained in the technical aspects of the machinery.
  11. All work areas are to be kept properly lit when anyone is working.
  12. All work areas are to be kept properly ventilated.
  13. All areas of the factory are be kept clean and organized.
  14. Anyone working in the factory under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be immediately terminated.

 

The safety officer for the factory should require every job to have a job hazards analysis with each employee performing that job being trained in recognizing the hazards to which they can be exposed and being trained on how they can safely eliminate or reduce those hazards. Each job should have a safety checklist with the employee being able to obtain a 100% grade on test questions about the requirements of their safety checklist.

 

 

All employees conducting work that requires specific OSHA training must be required to complete the OSHA training before they can start work in the factory.

 

 

The factory safety officer should perform frequent factory inspections to identify any hazards the employees might have missed. Any identified hazards should be immediately addressed and corrected. The safety officer should also hold regular scheduled safety training classes as well as requiring safety classes for all new hires before they can do any work in the factory.

 

 

Fire drills and other emergency evacuation drills should be conducted to ensure all employees know how to quickly and safely leave the building. As a part of all emergency drills, the employees need to know whether to shut down their machinery or to leave it running when they evacuate the building. As a part of the fire and emergency evacuation drills, all employees need to know where the fire extinguishers, fire hoses and other emergency equipment is located, and how to use the equipment in an emergency. (WCxKit)

 

 

The establishment of a strong safety program within the employer’s factory will result in a significant reduction in the number of workers compensation claims and their resulting cost. If you need any assistance in establishing your factory’s safety program, our website has extensive information about building a safety program.

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

5 Considerations For Effective Safety Program Incentives

All good risk managers understand the importance of preventing injuries through a strong safety program. From the employers perspective, the buy-in of the employees into the safety program should be a given, as the employer sees the safety program as protecting the employees from injury. However, the employees, especially the ones who have never been hurt on the job, may view the safety program requirements as hindrances in their performance of their work.

 

 

To encourage employee participation in their safety programs, employers often add what they see as incentives for the employee’s to participate. For example, the employer may offer gift cards to local businesses with the size of the gift cards tied to the number of days the employer has gone without a report of a work comp claim. While some employees will view the gift cards as bonus compensation, it may have the unintended consequence of causing an employee with an injury to not report the injury due to peer pressure. If the injury develops complications due to the lack of timely medical care, the injury gets reported late and the cost of the medical benefits is higher than it would have otherwise been. (WCxKit)

 

 

Incentives can be used to create employee interest in the safety program and motivate employees (and managers and supervisors) to act and work in a safe manner. But, if the incentives become the focus of the safety program and actual safety is not the focus, then the incentives become interference in obtaining a true safe working environment.

 

 

Instead of the emphasis of the safety program being on the incentives, the emphasis should be on training the employee how to work safely. Educating the employee in the proper performance of their job will have a bigger impact on the overall safety record of the employer than an incentive program. If the employees do not know how to work safely, the incentive program will fail.

 

 

A tactic taken by some employers is to tie performance bonuses for managers and supervisors to the number of injuries reported at a work site. If the managers and supervisors are more interested in the bonus then they are their actual safety performance, they can go outside the lines of propriety by pressuring employees to not report claims or by delaying the reporting of claims until their bonus is paid. Any incentive program from managers and supervisors must have built-in safeguards to be sure all claims, big and small, are reported timely.

 

 

The safety program needs to be constructed where the employees are motivated to act in a safe manner and to promote safety with their fellow employees without anyone feeling there will be retribution for reporting an injury. If the employees feel there is retribution or retaliation for reporting an injury, the number of reported injuries may declined slightly, but the actual number of injuries does not decline.

 

 

When safety programs are tied to return to work programs, with only lost time claims being counted by the employer in awarding safety incentives or bonuses, there can be an abuse of the return to work program. There are situations where the employee following an injury is unable to perform any meaningful work for the employer. If the employee is returned to work anyway and sets in the cafeteria or break room all day doing nothing, it will have the unintended consequence of demoralizing other employees who see the injured employee as receiving preferential treatment.

 

 

Some employers have tried tying safety programs to progressive discipline where injured workers are reprimanded for unsafe acts that result in an injury to themselves or others.   The problem of using progressive discipline is it usually has three or four steps including a written warning, probation, suspension and termination. Only the most careless of employees will have three or four safety violations or at-fault injury claims where they can be terminated for repeated violations of the safety program. While the progressive discipline approach can reduce safety violations, it can also create a morale problem, especially if the employee does not feel he/she acted in an unsafe manner.

 

 

For safety programs to be effective there needs to be:

 

  1. A screening program to prevent the hiring of people who are prone to accidents or who have a lax attitude toward safety
  2. A drug testing program that includes pre-hire testing, post-accident testing, random testing and for just-cause testing
  3. A culture of safety before profits or production within the company
  4. An integration of the safety program into the company’s quality control program
  5. A way to quantify risk and measure the results of changes with the work process (WCxKit)

 

 

To prevent problems within the safety program, employers need to keep the focus of the safety program on training the employees, not on incentives for either the employees or the supervisors/managers. Incentives should be used only as a way of obtaining the employees interest in the safety program. Properly educating the employees on how to work safely will have a much greater impact on worker safety than any incentive program.

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 

 

WC IQ TEST:  http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/

WORK COMP CALCULATOR: http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

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