Injuries Drop by Double-Digits; But Claims of Employer Retaliation Rise

Last year the federal government announced the good news: Workplace injuries dropped by an impressive 31 percent over the past decade. Mitigating this news was the doubling of federal and state court cases from about 50 to 100 in 2012 regarding retaliation for workers compensation claims, according to a story last year in the Wall Street Journal (login required).

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken notice, and is cracking down on employers to send the message that retaliation is federally prohibited.

So how can you protect yourself from retaliation claims? What if, for example, an employer isn’t “retaliating” against an employee for suffering a workplace injury, but rather, was disciplining someone who consistently violated safety policy and rules?

According to a recent Workforce blog, prevention through consistent policy is key.

  • Establishing a culture of fairness around workplace discipline for violating safety policies is important. Demonstrating a consistent approach to safety policy – one that employees see is distributed even handedly – allows you to build the case that safety, not employee punishment, guides your actions.

  • Make sure your safety policy isn’t just collecting dust on a shelf. Clear written safety rules are fantastic; making sure your employees are consistently reminded of those rules through regular work training sessions and interactions with management will establish safety as a clear priority in the workplace. That can only help you show that safety is taken seriously, not retaliation against employees.