“We have found that incentive programs based primarily on injury and illness numbers often have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels at the opening of the 26th Annual National VPPPA Conference in Orlando, Fla. “We cannot tolerate programs that provide this kind of negative reinforcement and this type of program would keep a company out of the VPP until the program or practice is corrected.”
However, Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) participants, just like all other worksites, are free to use an incentive program as long as it's the right kind of program, reinforcing positive behavior. Specific questions during inspections and onsite evaluations have been designed to determine whether some employers are under-reporting injuries and how incentive programs affect the reporting of injuries and illnesses.
“Incentive programs are a useful and common means to motivate people and strive for improvement,” said VPPPA Executive Director R. Davis Layne. “However, the association and its members disapprove of programs that discourage employees from reporting injuries because they want to receive a reward. Good incentive programs feature positive reinforcement for demonstrating safe work practices and taking active measures in hazard recognition, analysis and prevention.”