In a BLR webinar entitled "OSHA Inspection: How to Prepare for a Surprise Visit and Minimize your Liability Risks," Tracy L. Moon, Jr., a practicing partner at Fisher & Phillips, LLP in Atlanta, and an authorized OSHA General Industry Outreach Trainer, discussed workplace discipline as a key element to safety and health responsibility.
When adults hear the word ‘discipline’, they are frequently filled with resentments and resistance to what is a strong reminder of childhood punishments. However, in the workplace, discipline has a “pro-employee” purpose and is the cornerstone of an effective safety management program.
It is highly encouraged that employer’s analyze the role of discipline in their workplace by the elements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Affirmative Defense” of “Unpreventable Employee Misconduct”, which advise employers to:
- Establish work rules designed to ensure safe work and to avoid OSHA violations
- Communicate the work rules to employees
- Train the employees as needed
- Take appropriate steps to discover violations
- Effectively enforce the rules and practices when violations are discovered
- Document the above actions
The benefits of such a disciplinary policy are many. Not only does consistent discipline ensure greater safety and safety awareness, but it will also:
- Remove poor performers from the workplace
- Create “limits” for employees
- Improve morale when employees see good/bad behavior recognized
- Limit potential negligent retention and negligent supervision claims
- Provide the necessary accountability for an effective Safety Program
- Avoid the appearance of discrimination and unfairness
Each of these outcomes will lead to a more coherent workplace and will help to build an overall culture of safety and health among employees and employers alike.
Tracy L. Moon, Jr., is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fischer & Phillips, LLP and provides representation, training and counseling to employers in regards to employment and labor issues. He advises employers on compliance with both federal and state OSHA regulation and is an authorized OSHA General Industry Outreach Trainer. He may be contacted for further information at (404) 240-4246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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