OSHA Whistleblower App

What do you do if you suspect that your employer is putting you or someone else in harm’s way but doesn’t want to listen when you voice your concern? What about if you witness safety violation and are told not to make trouble?

Things are about to get a whole lot easier with a new app that is being developed by OSHA. According to this post on the Safety First Consulting, SeeClick Fix has been contracted to develop the app.

Smartphone

See a problem? Simply snap a photo and take a short video with your smart phone, open the app and submit it using the app. When OSHA gets the complain they channel it to the appropriate department.

Find out what you can do, as an employer, to prepare for this “Whistleblower App” on the Safety First Consulting Blog.


Incentive Programs can result in discrimination

A new memorandum by OSHA published on Monday of this week seeks to clarify issues regarding safety incentives that may actually be illegal.

At issue is the fact that certain types of incentive programs would actually discourage employees from reporting injuries which is not only discrimination and illegal but also puts everyone at risk.

The memorandum goes through the obvious violations of employees reporting injuries and in some manner being disciplined for doing so (because the way they got the injury was a violation of company policy, because the way that they reported it wasn’t in keeping with company policies, etc…).

In the fourth example, however, it covers incentive “programs that unintentionally or intentionally provide employees an incentive to not report injuries. For example, an employer might enter all employees who have not been injured in the previous year in a drawing to win a prize, or a team of employees might be awarded a bonus if no one from the team is injured over some period of time.”

Well-intentioned as these incentive programs may be, they essentially cause the employee who is injured to hold back the information from his employer either out of peer pressure (all my co-workers will miss out on the prize) or out of a desire to get some kind of reward (if I don’t report it I’ll qualify for the free lunch).

Obvious examples of this type of illegal incentive program would be something like “If we can achieve 90 days without injury, everyone will get the company will buy everyone lunch.” If you do get injured, you’ll be motivated to not report the injury because if you do everyone will lose out on the free lunch (or whatever the prize may be).

If you have questions about whether or not your incentive program is legal and beneficial, or for ideas on how to put together an incentive program that doesn’t discriminate against the whistleblower, OSHA has a phone number that you can call: (202) 693-2199


Reinstatement?!?! Really?!?!?

According to a press release on the OSHA website, the US Labor Department is filing suit against Promesa Systems, Inc. “for allegedly firing an employee who voiced workplace safety and health concerns and filed a complaint with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

“The complaint seeks a judgment ordering all appropriate relief for the worker, including reinstatement, back pay with interest and compensatory damages, as well as prohibiting the defendants from future violations and having them post and comply with a workplace notice that they will not discriminate against employees who engage in protected safety and health activities.”

While I applaud the employee and OSHA for fighting termination on the basis of an employee reporting and trying to rectify an unsafe condition, I can’t help but wonder what “reinstatement” will accomplish. How fairly can the employee expect to be treated? If Promesa Systems, Inc. fired him/her for reporting unsafe conditions and are essentially forced to take him/her back because of a lawsuit, can’t the employee just expect the job to be one that any sane person would quit?

One can’t imagine that there is a long career ahead for this employee. Promotions and raises aren’t going to be forthcoming.

Would you be interested in working for someone who HAD TO keep you rather than working for someone who needed and wanted you?

There’s got a be a better compensation. Backpay and compensatory damages are one thing but telling an employee that they have to go back to work for someone who now hates them for costing them so much money and trouble isn’t exactly going to set a great precedent for other whistle-blowers.

What do you think? Is there a better way?