OSHA's Blanket Stance on Safety Incentive Is Just Wrong!

Make America Great Again - Repeal the "Obama Safe" Act

November 9, 2016 - 

Dear President-elect Trump.

Congratulations on your tremendous victory. I am sure your campaign will go down in history as the very best, most excellent Presidential campaign ever run. Believe it or not, I announced my belief that you would win the Presidency more than six months ago on my blog (see my proclamation here). So take a few days to celebrate your hard-earned victory, and then get busy making America great again.

Once you are sworn in, I encourage you to move forward on promised actions such as making healthcare affordable again by, ironically, repealing and replacing “The Affordable Healthcare Act” (aka Obama Care).  And if you are looking for some low-hanging fruit to effect additional needed change, I have another suggestion for action; immediately repeal the “The Obama Outlaws Pizza Parties Act” (aka Obama Safe).

Because you have been occupied for the past few months, you might not be aware that The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which you will soon oversee, recently implemented a new rule that prohibits employer discrimination against workers who report an injury, which is a worthy thing to do. But in typical fashion, OSHA administrators’ went and stuck their noses where they do not belong, and deciding they would micro-manage every employer’s safety program.  I say that because after promulgation and publication of this new standard, OSHA administrators announced they “interpreted” their new rule to mean that employers cannot have safety incentive programs that are dependent on workers being injury-free. The basis for this stance is OSHA’s concern that an injured worker might not report the injury to their employer for fear they may lose their safety incentive (or because of peer pressure), and as a result employers will not be notified of, and correct, the hazard(s) that allowed the accident to occur.

Now I understand that a worker might conceal a very minor work-related injury if they are a few days away from winning a new car for going accident free for a year, but that kind of prize is very rarely at stake. Instead, the “award” is typically something of nominal value to the worker. But even so, OSHA says they will even cite employers who throw a pizza party for their workers to celebrate their going accident free for a period of time (say three months, for example). It is my opinion that stance is not only wrong; it can be counter-productive in the long run.

OSHA-recordable injuries are those that result in a worker receiving actual medical treatment (not first aid) or worse. So if a worker suffers a recordable injury, they have to weigh the cost of not reporting the injury to their employer and then paying for the medical treatment out of their own pocket (or file it on their health insurance and pay the deductible) against reporting the injury to their employer and perhaps forfeiting $3 dollars’ worth of pizza. Not too likely an outcome. Furthermore, outlawing pizza parties and similar incentives deprive employers of a very inexpensive (and I believe effective) way of keeping safety in front of employees eyes. More importantly, this also robs safety administrators of a rare opportunity to get workers and top management celebrating together their achievements in accident prevention.

So in review; not only do I think OSHA’s concerns about the negative effects of pizza parties and similar safety incentive programs are way over-blown and not justified, it exemplifies the “one program fits all size employers” mentality being forced upon employers by the current administration. So please, repeal “Obama Safe” and decriminalize pizza parties and other celebrations for safe workplaces. And while I’m at it, let me encourage you and your transition team to put careful thought and effort into selecting the right person for the job of Assistant Secretary of Labor to head up the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the next eight years (I even have a suggestion for such a person here).

Sincerely, Curtis Chambers





Curtis Chambers is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health. He has held numerous leadership positions managing and evaluating health and safety programs and providing training on workplace safety and health topics at various public organizations and private corporations. Mr. Chambers is currently the President of OSHA Training Services Inc. Visit their website at www.oshatraining.com.  
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