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How to Develop a Fool-Proof Corrective Action Process

HNI Senior Claims Consultant

The cliche that "rules are meant to be broken" really doesn't apply to rules about workplacecorrective action process safety. Policies are in place to keep workers safe and your business running as efficiently as possible. What's more, rules about safety help control risk and costs for your firm!

Workers do sometimes slip up (pun intended!) safety rules. In the face of broken rules, employers face two questions: 1) What now? and 2) How do we prevent this from happening again? Here's some guidance that hopefully will assist your organization in making positive changes to your corrective action process.

Employees Need to Know Their Role and Rules

One of the first things you should do is confirm that all employees have been properly trained on their responsibilities. This instruction should appear in the form of employee policies and safety standards. Each employee should receive a copy of both of these documents. Employees should sign off on receiving the policies and standards, and that receipt should be kept in their HR file.

The Basic Corrective Action Process

Both policies and standards should outline the corrective action process in the event the “rules” are broken. The most common process is:

  1. Verbal Warning
  2. Written Warning
  3. Final Written Warning
  4. Suspension
  5. Separation

Some employers worry that corrective action taken after a work injury will look like retaliation. To get past this perception, employers must apply corrective action consistently for all broken rules. If one employee breaks the rules and doesn’t hurt himself or damage property, he should be written up the same way as someone who wasn't so lucky. Consistency is key!

It also is important to document progressive corrective action. Take each of the five steps above unless a serious infraction has occurred. It's a way to make sure the punishment fits the crime (so to speak). Don’t skip corrective action steps out of anger or frustration.

If It's Not Documented, It Didn't Happen

The final key is to document, document, document! If it isn’t written down, it never happened! Remember: Documentation should illustrate some form of coaching to improve the employee's behavior.

Together, these three best practices will deliver corrective action success:

  • Clearly outline rules and expectations
  • Consistently apply progressive corrective action
  • Be concise in your documentation

What does your corrective action process look like? How has your corrective action process changed your company's culture — and bottom line? What have we overlooked in this blog post? Please share in comments!

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Leveraging a Safety Program to Get the Best Rates in a Hard Market

Photo by jimthompson via Flickr

Topics: Safety / Compliance Leadership / Strategy HR / Employee Benefits