Recordkeeping Injury prevention

2014 NSC Congress & Expo coverage: Michaels to employers: Design out hazards, stop blaming workers

San Diego – In a rebuke to behavior-based safety theories, OSHA administrator David Michaels said occupational injuries are not the result of workers’ personal choices, and that blaming workers for their own injuries must stop.

“Just focusing on personal responsibility isn’t useful, and it isn’t the law,” Michaels said during the Occupational Keynote Sept. 16 at the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo.

Employees do not intentionally set out to injure themselves, Michaels said, adding that it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain safe workplaces. He stressed the need for employers to design and engineer out hazards as a means to help prevent injuries.

The comments come after a recently released OSHA final rule that will require employers to report to the agency various workplace incidents.

Michaels said the rule will facilitate opportunities for discussions with employers who have had workers injured on the job, offering a “teachable moment” on how those employers can help prevent future injuries.

“Blaming it on the worker isn’t going to work,” Michaels said. “You can’t blame the worker if they’re allowed to do something over and over again, and they get hurt.”