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Employee safety: Incentives may not always be the answer

When it comes to the workplace, there is nothing more important than employee safety. As an employee, you know that you have a right to compensation if you're hurt on the job, but it's always better to be safe than to have to worry about filing a claim.

To keep workplaces safe, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created programs, regulations and requirements that businesses should follow. OSHA has a primary objective of keeping workplaces safe, so it is a supporter of businesses that have strong safety profiles.

OSHA is, however, slightly critical of outcome-based reward systems. In part, that's because the system could make it harder for some people to report their injuries. Imagine if you get hurt and are the one to ruin a six-year safety record. Would you want to file your report? Probably not. OSHA wants to see safety incentives, but not at the risk of reducing reporting.

A well-designed safety program should encourage reporting, so mistakes can be fixed and errors are addressed. While it's important to have an injury-free workplace, it may not always be possible. Penalizing workers who report injuries or who cause an accident may not be the right solution. Education, training and a strong focus on safety are what keep employees safe.

If you get hurt on the job and had no safety protocols at work or believe that you can't report the injury because others will suffer because of it, you still need to make a claim. You have a right to workers' compensation if you're hurt on the job.

Source: OHSOnline, "Safety Incentives: It's a Small World, After All," Jerry Laws, accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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