publications full of ideas
OSHA-Compliant Incentive Programs

7.31.2017

Many employers utilize incentive programs to reward employees for compliance with company safety policies. Many of these programs utilize a system of rewards based upon the number of consecutive days a facility has been without a reportable work-related accident or illness. New OSHA anti-retaliation regulations make such programs violations of OSHA standards subjecting employers to legal sanctions even without the filing of an employee complaint.

New anti-retaliation regulations are intended to emphasize OSHA’s prohibition against employers taking adverse action against employees simply because they report work-related injuries or illnesses. How does this impact safety incentive programs? OSHA has specifically held that an incentive program which withholds a benefit (such as a cash prize, gift certificate or other substantial reward) in the event of an injury or illness report, violates its anti-retaliation rules. For example, an employer’s promise to raffle off a gift card at the end of each month in which no employee sustains an injury requiring the employee to miss work, is a violation of the anti-retaliation rules.

Do OSHA’s revised anti-retaliation rules mean the end of employer-sponsored safety incentive programs? No; the new rules are not a blanket prohibition against workplace safety incentive programs. Instead, the rules provide for close scrutiny of employer incentive programs to make certain they do not operate to limit the reporting of injuries and illnesses by employees.

It is quite possible to craft a safety incentive program which meets the new anti-retaliation requirements. For example, an incentive program rewarding employees each month for the proper use of fall protection, lockout-tagout procedures, etc. would be compliant with the new regulations. So too would be incentive awards for the completion of extra safety training.

Employers are urged to review their safety incentive programs to determine if they are currently in compliance with OSHA’s new anti-retaliation regulations. If they are not in compliance, immediate efforts should be undertaken to revise the incentive programs. Failure to take action to correct non-compliant programs places the employer at risk for substantial penalties.

Poyner Spruill partner Tom Davis has extensive experience defending OSHA citations, reviewing and revising safety programs and providing safety training. For questions about this alert you can reach Tom at tdavis@poynerspruill.com or 919.783.2816.

Physical Address: 301 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1900, Raleigh, NC 27601

related information

what's new at the firm

WEBINAR EVENT: New CMS ROPs for SNFs and what the term "resident representative" means

2/21/2018

We're partnering with NCHCFA to bring you a new webinar series open to all NCHCFA members. Register now!

Two Poyner Spruill Attorneys Help Work for Tomorrow through Mentor Program at UNC Law

2/20/2018

RALEIGH, NC – Founded in 2016, the McIntyre-Whichard Legal Fellows Program is now in its second year of existence at the University of North Carolina School of Law. The program was founded by two UNC Law School alums and is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Study Center and the UNC Christian Legal Society. The program is named after Poyner Spruill partner and former U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre and former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard, who are both alums of the university and serve as program mentors.

Poyner Spruill Diversity Committee to host panel discussion with key leaders in the legal field to celebrate Black History Month

2/12/2018

The Poyner Spruill Diversity Committee is celebrating Black History Month by hosting an intimate panel discussion with key leaders who have been successful in the legal field.

Twenty-three Poyner Spruill Attorneys Honored by Super Lawyers in 2018

2/5/2018

RALEIGH, NC – Poyner Spruill is pleased to announce that 16 of its attorneys have been recognized as 2018 North Carolina Super Lawyers and 7 were named as 2018 North Carolina Rising Stars by North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine.

Poyner Spruill’s Client Service & Strategy Manager to Present at the 2018 Festival of Legal Learning

1/23/2018

RALEIGH, NC – Poyner Spruill’s Manager of Client Service & Strategy, Brandi Hobbs, has been invited to present at the University of North Carolina School of Law’s 2018 Festival of Legal Learning. The festival will take place February 9-10 at The William & Ida Friday Continuing Education Center in Chapel Hill.