We recently came across the article “Keep your workplace injury free to reduce the risk of prosecution” by Nelson Aldrich. This article was a reminder of best preventative actions that can be taken to avoid legal trouble due to workplace injuries. The writer explains that more severe punishments have been recently implemented for employers who fail to comply with legal safety protocols. This includes steep fines and possible incarceration. He references the recent passing of Bill SB96 that makes the “minimum and maximum fines associated with willful or repeat violations increased to roughly $8,900 and $125,000 respectively.” As you can see, injury that could have been prevented by following protocol does damage to both the employee and employer.
Aldrich furthers the discussion by introducing a three-pronged approach to reduce the likelihood of both injury and prosecution. The three steps are training, documentation, and buy-in at all levels.
It is important that frequent training is attended by all employees. At training sessions, proper use of equipment should be demonstrated. The topic of all training sessions and the signatures of those who attended should be documented in case of future injury. The ability to prove that your company is taking the proper steps to ensure safety can help keep you out of legal trouble. Finally, it is important that people at every level in the company embraces the importance of safe practices. As Aldrich puts it, “If you’re not engaged, the message will be that you lead by power rather than by influence. Since ‘do as I do’ is much more effective than ‘do as I say,’ be sure that your behavior models the training and rules that you and your employees agree to.”
In addition to following the approaches laid out by Aldrich, employees should feel comfortable identifying and reporting potential breeches in workplace safety. The sooner a problem is reported, the sooner it can be addressed in training. One way to promote a company wide attitude of integrity and honesty is by implementing an easy to access reporting mechanism. Using an ethics hotline, such as Red Flag Reporting, allows employees and management to report concerns anonymously and at any time. Do your part to promote a safe workplace today.