Focus on your efforts. Not the results.
That’s the essence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s policy for a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), under which employers, employees and OSHA collaborate to make a workplace safer.
So, while the beginning of the year is a good time to set safety goals for your scrapyard, do so with caution. Set safety goals based on how to work safer, rather than rewarding employees for not reporting injuries. Otherwise, OSHA may require you to revise your VPP.
In a December newsletter regarding scrapyard safety, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries providespotential safety goals that can make your scrapyard safer without running afoul of OSHA’s policies for safety programs.
“We’re trying to get in front of the injuries and to reward them for the things that lead to safety,” said Joe Bateman, a safety outreach manager for ISRI.
Though rewarding employees with gift cards for an injury-free month may sound like a good idea, your money would be better spent rewarding them for such positive habits as wearing personal protective equipment and attending safety training.
In an August 2014 memo, OSHA stated:
“A positive incentive program encourages or rewards workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, near-misses, or hazards; and/or recognizes, rewards, and thereby encourages worker involvement in the safety and health management system.”
Furthermore, it continues:
“When an incentive program discourages worker reporting or, in particularly extreme cases, disciplines workers for reporting injuries or hazards, problems remain concealed, investigations do not take place, nothing is learned or corrected, and workers remain exposed to harm.”
Though OSHA has been pushing businesses to shift to positive incentive programs for several years now, some scrapyards still haven’t replaced VPP that focused on injuries, often because of a lack of knowledge or resources for doing so.
“When you have a workforce of 35 people you’re not going to hire a full-time safety manager. It falls on you,” Bateman said.
But ISRI is helping to make the industry safer by providing free safety training and education to its members. Learn more about ISRI’s safety outreach program and resources at http://www.isrisafety.org.