Ask These 6 Questions During Incident Investigations for a New Approach Disciplining Employees

Companies across several industries are changing the way they conduct incident investigations, which creates a new approach for disciplining employees who constantly repeat the same safety mistake.

The traditional way to discipline employees is often described as the ‘3-strike’ approach.  First you get a verbal warning, second instance you receive a written warning and then the third infraction is grounds for  termination.  This approach is attractive because it’s easy and straightforward, plus it works well from a legal standpoint.  But this approach poses a
few questions for thought. What happens if you don’t document the verbal warnings?  Do you just rely on memory?  What about unique situations?  Were all the terminations executed fairly?

Accident Incident InvestigationThis is where OSHA  needs to be considered.  If a company fired a worker for suffering an injury, OSHA could come after the company for retaliation.  Also, if there is no established consistent pattern to disciplining workers for safety mistakes, companies won’t be able to claim unpreventable employee misconduct.

Two health, safety and environmental (HSE) managers presented a successful disciplinary plan that they implemented in their construction company at the 2016 ASSE Safety conference.  The company formed a disciplinary committee that consists of senior operations manager, safety managers and three senior supervisors.   The disciplinary committee incorporated 6 questions to be asked during their incident investigations.

  1. Did the worker receive specific training needed to comply?
  2. Did a supervisor give incorrect or inadequate instructions?
  3. Were the required tools and equipment readily available?
  4. Were there distractions beyond the worker’s control?
  5. What is the employee’s prior work history regarding safety?
  6. Does the worker understand his or her mistake and express a desire to do better regarding safety?

The committee then makes a recommendation based on the answers and presents their recommendation to the worker’s manager.  The company who presented this system says that there is a greater level of compliance in regards to the company safety rules.

Need a custom training program?  SRP Safety Consultants work with you and your company to develop safety training programs to fit the needs of your company.  Call SRP today at (866) 222-4972 to speak with a safety consultant.  SRP has seven convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Midland, Shreveport, and Pittsburgh.

Source: Safety Compliance Alert, August 19, 2016 Edition