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How to implement a disciplinary programme for safety violations

By Avetta Marketing
March 18, 2021
4 minutes
Disciplinary Program for Safety Violations

A disciplinary programme for safety violations helps guarantee workplace safety and health by letting the employees know what is expected of them and providing workers with opportunities to correct their behaviour before an incident occurs.  

Within a disciplinary programme for safety violations, an employer has the exclusive right to administer appropriate disciplinary action, including discharge, to workers for just or proper cause. In most cases, a documented progressive discipline approach is required whenever a policy, rule or safety violation occurs.   

Getting your disciplinary programme started  

  1. Have a clear understanding of policy. Employers above all else need to understand the rules, and the consequences of breaking those rules, fully. To achieve this, rules and consequences can be outlined in the employee safety handbook. 

  1. Worker’s should be privy to what’s considered a violation. Along with the rules and consequences, violations should be clearly laid out so employees have a reference to turn to if they have any questions. Examples of typical worksite violations include: 

  1. Drinking alcohol and/or drug abuse before or during working hours 

  1. Fighting, provoking or engaging in an act of violence against another person on the property 

  1. Theft or wilful damage to the property 

  1. Failure to wear required protective equipment (eye protection, safety helmets, etc.) 

  1. Tampering with machines  

  1. Failure to follow recognised industry practices 

  1. Major traffic violations while using a company vehicle 

  1. Failure to notify leaders of a hazardous situation  

  1. All employees should be required to attend training sessions. Training can reduce the need for disciplinary action and reiterate the importance of workplace safety and health, the need to develop safety habits and compliance with safe work practices. 

  1. Allow managers to provide oversight for working conditions. Supervision includes monitoring employees' work and safety habits – if there is any wrongdoing, managers should have the opportunity to correct any problems before serious situations develop. 

  1. Provide fair disciplinary actions. Disciplinary actions need to be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the frequency of its occurrence. Employers should provide feedback to the employee on what behaviour is unacceptable, why the corrective action is necessary and how the employee can prevent future violations and disciplinary action. 

  1. Document any infractions. One key to achieving fairness and consistency in a disciplinary programme is keeping good records. It is in the best interest of both the employer and the worker to document instances of good or poor safety and health behaviour.

Are disciplinary programmes for safety violations allowed according to OSHA?

Yes, however, employers must not use disciplinary action, or the threat of disciplinary action, to retaliate against a worker for reporting an injury or illness. OSHA prohibits disciplining employees simply because they report work-related injuries. 

A legitimate workplace safety programme should treat all workers who violate rules in an equivalent manner, regardless of whether the violation resulted in the worker reporting an injury. 

A disciplinary programme does not exist solely to punish employees. Both employers and employees should understand that its purpose is to control the work environment so that workers are protected and incidents are prevented.  

To learn about how Avetta contributes to health and safety, visit our website, call +1 844-633-3801, or email [email protected]

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