Companies can’t risk taking employees’ safety concerns lightly, especially not these days.
Inspections and investigations by federal and state agencies are on the rise, across the board.
That’s largely because legislators have been consistently cutting agency budgets and staffing over the last six years. Whether it’s environmental protection, health and safety, labor standards, you name it — the regulators are counting on the public and disgruntled employees to clue them in to potential violations of all kinds.
One example: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspections initiated by anonymous complaints jumped by nearly 10% from seven years ago. And the safety agency’s done all it can to keep those anonymous tips coming in.
Like many government agencies, OSHA encourages anonymous complaints from employees through phone calls, email and its website. These agencies aren’t shy about letting potential whistleblowers know they’re protected under federal laws.
Communication goes a long way
Companies that fire employees who report (anonymously or otherwise) potential violations end up on the losing end of whistleblower lawsuits.
But you can avoid those kinds of problems by letting employees know your company wants to know about concerns and issues that may affect the bottom line, workers’ safety, etc.
Here are three ways to assure people that their concerns are important:
- Provide some form of suggestion box (an electronic version via the company intranet or a designated email account works just fine) for people to share suggestions.
- Always, always thank people for their ideas and tell them what kind of action they should expect (and when).
- Follow through on workable ideas. But explain why your company can’t follow through on non-valid suggestions.