OSHA Recommends Anti-Retaliation Programs for Safer Workplaces
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a list of recommended practices to help employers avoid retaliation problems. OSHA’s goal was to help workers feel more comfortable in the workplace when discussing or reporting important safety issues. The recommendations are applicable for private and public sector workers, and they align with the existing whistle blower protection laws. These were a few key highlights from OSHA’s recommendations.
Defining Workplace Retaliation
Retaliation occurs when an employee reports a concern or a person, and a manager or another person in authority over that employee takes adverse action against him or her. Adverse actions may include any of the following practices:
- Laying off or firing
- Denying overtime
- Vague disciplinary terms
- Denying benefits
- Making threats
- Denying rehiring
- Pay reduction
- Duty reassignment
Some other subtle actions may be included.
Building An Anti-retaliation Program
OSHA noted in their release that the process of designing a program is not intuitive. It requires commitments and strong policies. OSHA suggested the following five specific elements to address when creating a solid program:
- Accountability, commitment and leadership
- Concern resolution system
- Reporting and response system
- Anti-retaliation training
- Program oversight
OSHA emphasized the importance of leadership roles among managers, supervisors and executives. Anyone who is in a position of leadership over another individual should be aware of their responsibilities at all times. Their duties should include oversight of compliance systems, and there must be regular meetings to discuss issues. OSHA suggested that frequent open meetings as opposed to quarterly gatherings for addressing concerns reduces the risk of retaliation.
Workers should know about the new program. Construct a detailed outline of procedures and instructions. There should be an efficient system created to collect complaints. If executives are worried about employees’ fears of subtle retaliation despite best practices, an anonymous reporting system may be the solution. However, special training for all supervisors and managers is a must, and the training should be refreshed periodically. After implementing a new program, it must be regularly evaluated to determine any necessary changes.
These are all recommendations and are not legal requirements by OSHA. However, such a program can promote a safer and more supportive work environment for everyone. The result is a reduced risk of safety violations, workplace injury claims and more. To learn more about setting up a program or to discuss individual workplace safety issues, contact an insurance agent.
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