Posted by Tamara
Montana employers need to be aware of some recent developments in OSHA regulations.
While a number of states have worker safety organizations of their own, in Montana OSHA, a federal agency, oversees worker safety. In 2009, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) launched the National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping (NEP) after several university studies revealed that companies were not accurately reporting workplace accidents.
Usually, Montana employers with few accidents in the workplace would be considered to be doing a good job. Their status, however, may now be the exact reason for increased OSHA enforcement.
A memo requiring local offices to implement more inspections was recently issued by OSHA to focus on employers that underreport accidents in the workplace. The action will focus specifically on factories and companies with many workers at one site whose injury report rates are much lower than their competitors.
Problems with underreporting are usually linked too over-zealous managers and supervisors who fail to report accidents in the workplace. Often these incidents are minor, require basic first aid and do not result in much time missed from work. Unfortunately, there are scenarios where injuries are more serious and supervisors fail to report it, and may threaten employees that do report it.
Most employers would assume that as long a workplace safety plan is in place, that they will have few problems with injuries and fewer incidents to report. On the surface, this assumption seems reasonable. Unfortunately, it is often the workplace safety plan that creates the problem. A plan that provides financial incentives to managers or supervisors to maintain low accident rates could encourage an environment of underreporting accidents.
A workplace safety plan and rewarding employees with good records is a positive thing. Offering incentives that are too large, or require meeting impossible goals is negative.
Another difference in OSHA’s new policy is the procedure for inspecting companies. Previously, OSHA didn’t inspect businesses that reported no lost work days, employees on light duty or workers transferred due to a work-related accident. This was also an incentive for employers to underreport accidents. Under this new plan, OSHA will inspect those companies on the same basis as other.
The NEP’s program will focus on companies that reported few or no accidents in 2008 or 2009, and will continue through February of 2012.
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