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Worker Safety In Maine


Posted by Tamara

In previous years, companies that reported no days of work lost, employees on light duty or employees transferred due to a work-related accident weren’t inspected by OSHA.

That policy, however, has changed. OSHA recently issued a memo requiring local offices to implement more inspections and crack down on employers who underreport accidents in the workplace. The action specifically targets factories and companies with many workers at one site, who report much lower injury rates than their competitors.

This program, known as NEP (National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping ) was launched in 2009, as a result of several university studies which discovered that companies were incorrectly reporting fewer workplace accidents. Under NEP, OSHA will focus on the manufacturing industry.

Unfortunately, the problems with underreporting are often due to over-zealous supervisors and managers who do not report workplace accidents. Often these incidents are minor and require little treatment and cause little or no time lost from work. In many cases, however, the accidents are more severe and still aren’t reported. Employees may be threatened by supervisors if they do report a legitimate workplace accident.

Most Maine employers assume that if they have a workplace safety plan in place and have few workplace accidents, that they’re doing everything right. That assumption could be incorrect. Sometimes, it’s the workplace safety plan that creates the problem.

Consider a plan that offers financial incentives to supervisors or managers for low accident rates. These incentives could create an environment that discourages reporting of accidents. Offering incentives for fewer workplace accidents can be positive, but they need to be realistic. Incentives that offer too much or set impossible goals will have a negative effect.

The increase in inspections and subsequent crackdown will focus on companies that reported few or no accidents in 2008 and 2009. Employers with a few accidents per year or a few days lost will actually be subjected to less scrutiny that those companies with a near-perfect safety record.

NEP is expected to continue through 2012.

 

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