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Friday, December 6, 2013

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs May Cause Controversy for Workers Compensation Claimants

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs May Cause Controversy for Workers Compensation Claimants

Some employers have “Safety Incentive” programs to encourage safety in the workplace and decrease work related injuries, thus decreasing workers’ compensation claims.   For example, an employer may give bonuses for no accidents in the workplace or have a year end pizza party for employees for low incident rates.  There are even companies that offer expert services to risk managers of companies to assist them to lower accidents in the workplace, such as Safety Pays and Safety Jackpot.  However, not everyone agrees that these programs are appropriate.  OSHA has been critical of traditional safety incentive programs that appear to discourage employees from reporting workplace injuries.   The Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA expressed concerns over these programs in a February, 2013 OSHA Employees All Hands On Meeting, stating such programs are part of several factors that can undermine a workplace culture of safety.  An employer cannot discriminate against an employee for exercising a protected right, such as the right to report an injury.  These programs may actually have a chilling effect on employee’s reporting injuries and are problematic.

If your company has a program such as this or if you are scared to report a work injury, you should contact an experienced attorney.