Tyler McEachren

First-Aid & Security Officer, KGHMI

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Safety Incentives...An incentive to under-report

One of my pet peeeves is companies that put Numbers before People....Now, I know this has been going on longer than most of us have been alive...But it's 2013!

Workers are afraid to report injuries because they don't want to cost themselves or their higher-ups their safety incentives or lower their bosses' Zero Harm numbers...This means that workers are not getitng the care they need, because no one knows they were injured, or have a chronic injury that's exacerbated by the work they did that day....This also means workers can't file for Compensation when they really need it because there is no paper trail.

I propose we eliminate Safety Incentives. It shouldn't take the allmighty dollar to promote a safe work environment...It's called the Occupational Health & Safety Act, and it's the law, and it's in place so you can go home to your family every night; THAT should be your incentive to work safely.

Like the title says....A Safety Incentive is just an Incentive to Under Report Injuries.

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    May 29 2013: An interesting perspective, Tyler, and perhaps an example of unintended consequences, unless we're cynical enough to believe that underreporting was the real purpose of Safety Incentives. A system where the worker has a personal incentive to not report injuries, incidents, or safety violations seems to be designed to fail as an aid to greater safety.

    Sounds like getting rid of SI's is a good start. But then what? There must be some formalized system in place to promote safety and to ensure that incidents are reported. Obviously employees must be able to report without fear of reprisals. The safety officer must have great independence and access to top management. I see him also as a type of ombudsman to whom safety violations can be anonymously reported. Have you found interest in your idea of dropping SI's among other safety officers or executives, and have you proposed the idea formally or written it up in industrial safety magazines? I wish you luck with it.
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    Apr 30 2013: It should be reported as then it can be fixed. The culture or mentality that says otherwise is a traitor to their people.

    On the other hand people who exploit this are equally no less treasonous.
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      Apr 30 2013: Unfortunately, the mentality says otherwise because there was a time where if a guy got hurt, that was it for him....There was no light duty, they were just disposed of. If we can erase that mentality, we could work towards fixing the problem. Ultimately though, as long there are numbers and money involved, the problem will always exist.

      What do you mean by exploiting this? I'm curious.
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        Apr 30 2013: I mean people who feign injury for easy street of which the numbers are increasing dramatically in the U.S.

        Going against the culture can cost you your job but...
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          Apr 30 2013: Ah, yes, those individuals....Thankfully, they almost always get caught, someone from work will see them wrestling with their dog, or the Insurance Company will have PI who catches them hauling shingles up a ladder, and they will be punished for the actions.

          But the real issue is getting people to look beyond numbers and incentives and report their injuries and more importantly, feel they CAN report their injuries or illnesses without fear of effecting anyone's numbers.
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    May 29 2013: As long as money is involved, there will be an incentive NOT to report events, accidents, or other things that cost the company cash! That has always been true and it will always be true.

    I agree with Tyler's last comment here. That's just human nature.
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    May 29 2013: Thank you, Paul.,

    Safety Incentives are put in place as one of the methods of Behaviour-Based Safety...Employees are rewarded and praised for safe practices, and the monetary incentive is used as a reward. Like I stated above, the problem with a monetary reward is since people want money/don't want to cost their foremen money, it really is more of a disincentive.

    Thankfully, there is no reprisal, and by Provincial Law, there cannot be any reprisal for refusing unsafe work and reporting injuries and unsafe conditions...The foremen are always worried about the health of their people, but then they will begin to complain when they realize that their numbers took a hit...And then other's hear him complaining, and may be less inclined to report their injuries.

    Also, on the subject of reprisals, I am aware that back in history--around the time of the industrial revolution up until probably the 1990's or 2000's, that workers who reported injuries were often viewed as no more use to the company and fired...And I think that worry and belief that they will be deemed useless and terminated is still deeply ingrained in some workers' memories, so part of the process might also be making them realize that they will not be terminated, and will still be of some use to the company in a light duty capacity until such a time where they are deemed fit by a physician to return to regular duty.

    I share the idea with a lot of frontline Health & Safety professionals who agree with me, and I even find agreement from foremen on the subject.

    Thank you for the idea of writing my proposal up in an industrial safety magazine...I think I may do just that.