Passing the buck is as old as man himself. Few of us are any good at taking responsibility for our actions when we can blame someone else. But if you want to avoid an OSHA inspection, it’s something your company has to step up and do. According to OSHA, companies that fill out accident reports and blame an “incompetent” employee are much more likely to get scheduled for an inspection than companies who accept the blame.
When you think about it this makes perfect sense. A company that blames the accident on the employee isn’t going to feel compelled to do anything to make sure a similar accident doesn’t happen. If I think you’re to blame for a problem than the solution to the problem lies with you, not with me. If, on the other hand, a company steps up and takes responsibility then they are also going to accept responsibility to correct the problem.
The truth is that it’s easy to put the blame on someone else but doing so blinds us to our own part in the issue. The employee might easily have done something stupid but if the company didn’t train him or her properly, if they didn’t keep driving the safety message home, if they didn’t consistently correct the employee when that employee was doing something in an unsafe way then the company certainly does deserve some, if not most of the blame.
When OSHA sees that a company is, in fact, accepting responsibility, it lets them know that this particular company is going to try to find solutions to keep similar problems from happening in the future.
The danger of such a blog post is that at least certain companies are now going to “accept blame” in order to avoid an inspection. The reality, however, is that if you are such a company, the truth will eventually come out. A company that does not “own” the safety of it’s employees is going to eventually come to attention of OSHA; such companies usually have repeated injuries. “Passing the buck” in an accident report just allows OSHA to get to you before another accident happens.