Employer Safety Incentive Programs Might be Unlawful - New OSHA Memo Clarifies, Threatens

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Employers who reward employees through certain kinds of safety incentive programs for the absence, or limited number, of workplace injuries might be violating OSHA's anti-retaliation and recordkeeping rules, according to a March 12, 2012, Guidance Memorandum issued by the agency to its Regional Administrators and Whistleblower Program Managers.

In the memo, the agency also challenges rules that impose discipline for (a) injuries, or (b) safety rule violations if the employer learns of the unsafe behavior as a result of the employee’s report of an injury. Finally, the agency expresses concern with rules that impose discipline for the failure to report an injury within a specified time period without the employer first carefully considering potential justifications for the employee's failure to timely report, such as the employee initially thinking the injury was not serious enough to report.

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