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Mississippi OSHA Plans Increased Inspections

Posted by Tamara

OSHA recently issued a memo requiring local offices to implement more inspections and crack down on Mississippi employers who fail to report 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.

In 2009, after several university studies found that businesses were incorrectly reporting fewer workplace accidents, OSHA launched the National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping or NEP. Under this plan, OSHA will increase its focus on the manufacturing industry.

Previously, OSHA did not inspect companies that reported no days of work lost, employees on light duty or employees transferred due to a work-related accident. This scenario encouraged an incentive for employers to underreport accidents.

OSHA will now inspect those companies on the same basis as others.

In fact, under NEP an employer who reports a few accidents during the year, with a few days of work lost or an employee on light duty, will actually be subject to fewer inspections and less scrutiny than one with a near-perfect safety record

Mississippi employers who have established a workplace safety plan that offers incentives for low accident rates may unknowingly be creating an environment that encourages underreporting.

This issue often comes from over-zealous supervisors and managers who do not report accidents. These accidents may not be serious, requiring only minor first aid and little or no time off from work. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t concern just minor accidents. Serious accidents are not being reported, either. In some cases, managers may receive financial incentives for a low injury rate, which could encourage employees not to report accidents at all. In other situations, employees have been threatened by such managers and supervisors if they even attempt to report a legitimate accident.

A workplace safety plan can be a positive program for a company, but employers must be aware that offering incentives that are too large or setting impossible goals can be negative.

Current NEP efforts will focus on companies that reported few or no accidents in 2008 and 2009. The program is expected to continue through February of 2012.

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