Safety Bingo – Buyer Beware

| May 31, 2011

OHSAS 18001 requires that organizations establish procedures to encourage worker participation in the OHSMS.  In some companies, worker participation is equated to establishing some sort of incentive program such as safety bingo.  The premise of many of these programs is as follows –

As long as there aren’t any reported injuries, participants in the safety incentive program have an opportunity to win a case prize. However, if an injury is reported, the game stops and the cash prize is either eliminated or substantially reduced for everyone.

Supposedly, these incentive programs build safety awareness.  Critics contend that they simply impact reporting of injuries without any underlying improvement in safety.  In other words, they drive safety reporting underground.  Interesting, based on the results of a poll conducted in June 2010 by SafetyNewsAlert, this is the view of over 60% of the safety professionals who responded.

In his keynote presentation at the AIHce earlier this month, the head of OSHA, Dr. Michaels, re-iterated OSHA’s strong disapproval of safety incentive programs that discourage injury reporting.  He went on to point out that they are also potential violations of Section 11 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. (Click here for a related article from National Safety Council Safety+Health Magazine)

What does this mean for organizations establishing procedures to meet the participation requirements of section 4.4.3 of OHSAS 18001?

Forget gimmicks.  Put processes in place for real worker participation in the OHSMS. 

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2011)

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Category: Injury & Illness Reporting, OHS Laws & Legal Compliance

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