“Safety Bingo” – Good Fun or Dangerous Precedent?

There is an interesting story out of California about a group of hotel workers who are taking their employer to task for a safety incentive program that they say rewards the non-reporting of on-the-job injuries. According to a post on the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO website, the employer's “Bingo” game "offered up to $25,000 or a new car as prizes in the game" and was intended to help the employer become an accident-free workplace.As readers of this blog know, OSHA Director Dr. Michaels has made it an agency priority to crack down on safety incentive programs that reward low incident rates. Instead of rewarding days without injuries and illnesses, OSHA prefers programs that incentivize the reporting of near misses and potential hazards.

OSHA says programs that reward low rates and incentive non-reporting are “problematic because under section 11(c), an employer may not "in any manner discriminate" against an employee because the employee exercises a protected right, such as the right to report an injury.”

In other words, if an employee of a firm with a safety incentive program reports an injury, the employee, or the employee's entire work group, could be disqualified from receiving the incentive, which could be considered unlawful discrimination.

This incident is a good reminder for all safety professionals and HR managers to review their currently policies and incentives to ensure they are keeping with OSHA’s directives.

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