On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to revise its Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation. Among its many components, the final rule includes a requirement that employers inform employees that they have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without facing retaliation by their employer. The final rule also creates a new enforcement tool for OSHA by granting OSHA the power to unilaterally cite an employer for retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
In the preamble to its final rule, OSHA lists numerous examples of citable employer actions under the new provision, including administering rate-based incentive programs, which reward workers for achieving low rates of reported injuries and illnesses and thus deny a benefit to workers who do, or any other action that would discourage or deter a reasonable employee from reporting a work-related injury or illness.
On November 1, 2016, the provisions related to the notice requirement for illness and injury reporting policies (29 CFR §1904.35) and the prohibition against discrimination (29 CFR §1904.36) will go into effect.
As a result, it is critical that the Postal Service eliminate any local Safety incentive programs that focus on injury or accident rates. This includes hanging banners or posting signs announcing the number of days a facility has gone without accidents, or otherwise rewarding employees for low accident rates. Such announcements or incentive programs could be interpreted by OSHA as a deterrent to accident reporting, and be considered grounds for an OSHA citation under the new rule.
Please work with District Managers in your Area to ensure that any local safety incentive programs are structured in such a way as to encourage safety in the workplace without discouraging the reporting of injuries and illnesses. Examples of acceptable programs include those that promote worker participation in safety-related activities, or that make rewards contingent upon whether workers follow legitimate safety rules. In addition, please ensure any banners or signs that refer to the number of accidents in a facility are taken down by November 1, 2016. The Area and District Safety Specialists are aware of these requirements and will be assisting the local teams.
Some of our former practices were long-standing and to take them away without replacement or explanation could send an unintended wrong message about safety. In order to keep the focus on safety and to encourage participation and pride, we have outlined some Incentive Program Recommendations that would be permissible under the new rule. These are only suggestions, but will help guide you to how best to recognize safe behavior instead of days without an accident.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
USPS Vice President
Employee Resource Management
First Name: Don
Last Name: Cheney
Union/Local: APWU – Auburn WA Local
Office held if any: Retired President