Shaming bad employers can improve safety in others, American study finds
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the USA has found that shaming companies about poor health and safety can improve safety practices in other firms within a 5km radius.
The OSHA regularly publishes press releases about employers violating its guidelines and placing workers at risk. This type of shaming is effective as, within a 5km radius of the offending company, firms have 73% fewer violations. Researchers at the OSHA claim that shaming is more effective than inspections, and say a damning press release is equal to 193 inspections.
In Britain, not all safety breaches are publicised, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does prosecute firms that have serious health and safety breaches, especially after a worker is injured. When a prosecution comes to court, local and sometimes national press reports the outcome. A successful prosecution that leads to hefty fine acts as an incentive for companies to be vigilant about complying with health and safety guidelines and regulations. The bad publicity surrounding a high-profile case has a negative public relations effect, which can put customers off the business.
Though most workers wear protective workwear when in hazardous areas, this has not prevented over a half a million injuries at work according to the latest HSE statistics for the 2018/19 period. Naming and shaming safety breaches found by their inspectors, like its American counterpart, could be a tactic to consider for reducing the number of work accidents.