The Incentive Federation Responds To OSHA Safety Incentive Program Criticism

The Incentive Federation, a trade association dedicated to promoting, protecting and providing research in the incentive field, and of which PPAI is a member, has issued a response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) revised draft of its Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. OSHA’s draft includes language critical of safety incentive programs and the guidelines state: “Incentive programs for workers or managers that tie performance evaluations, compensation or rewards to low injury and illness rates can discourage injury and illness reporting. Point systems that penalize workers for reporting injuries, illnesses or other safety or health concerns have the same effect, as can mandatory drug testing after reporting injuries. Effective safety and health programs recognize positive safety and health activities, such as reporting hazardous conditions or suggesting safer work procedures.”

The Incentive Federation’s response notes that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace injuries are on the decline and those that do occur result in lost productivity, increased compensation claims, damaged equipment, poor employee morale and retention, and litigation. The letter says, “Safety programs are an extremely effective means of reducing all types of workplace injuries. When they are implemented properly, they have a multitude of salutary effects.  As the BLS Survey cited above recognizes, the total number of injuries to workers has been dropping for over a decade, in large part due to the fact that many companies, especially larger ones, have adopted safety programs.”

In his recent Connections blog, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, supports the Incentive Federation’s stance by saying, “These new Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines put a negative stigma and a blanket generalization on all safety incentive programs, which is just not the case. Limiting potential hazards in the workplace is something both employees and employers take very seriously in an effort to have a safer workplace, and all methods of safety prevention should be considered when trying to achieve these objectives.”

The Incentive Federation’s full response is available here.

filed under industry-news | may-2016
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Sharon Willams Watermark/Creative Ideas
May 17, 2016

I am in my 31st year of selling promotional products. I started out on a part-time basis working two other jobs just after I was let go at an oil and gas company back in 1983 - a bad downturn in that industry. I was new in the field and did not really know where to start but certainly did not want to sell pens and cups to small mom and pop businesses even though they were and still are a good basis for our distributor businesses. Being in the Houston area and surrounded by chemical processing plants, large refineries and home offices of the likes of Texaco, Gulf/Chevron, Exxon and others I felt that there was an opportunity for me to excel. Even in downturns, the Safety Programs would still be in force, though maybe at a lower budget. So, I felt compelled to make contact but not with their marketing or HR departments but with their Safety Managers and my first meeting was with Texaco. I cannot tell you the response and the contacts that continued through many years and through all the changes, that came from that first meeting. I went on to do business with many of the other distribution companies, refiners, construction and petrochemical companies - all with their Safety Managers as a starting point. Through this process I also found that I became more aware of the actual safety precautions these managers taught and instilled in their employees. When presenting promotional products to promote their Safety Programs, I always presented a few extras that took the Safety Message home - that is where Safety starts and my clients appreciated that approach and continue to stress that Safety is not just job related, it is family related. I have been blessed to have that first association with the Safety Manager at the home office of Texaco!

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