Resources - OSHA Compliance

Developing Accountability


The nature and severity of disciplinary action should be appropriate for the seriousness and frequency of the violation.  Below are a series of questions designed to help you develop a disciplinary system that best meets the needs of your workplace.  You already may have addressed the first two areas when you developed safe work practices for various jobs.  If you have not yet developed these practices, it makes sense to do so before developing a disciplinary system.  Other workplace problems, such as attendance and attitude, are equally important but are not addressed here.

1.  Operations. What key operation(s) occur at your workplace?  What equipment is used?  By whom?  What materials are used, and by whom?  Are there any hazards associated with the use of the equipment or the materials?

2.  Practices and Procedures. What are the key types of jobs at your workplace?  What do most people do in the course of their work?  What is the most efficient way for them to perform their jobs?  What is the safest way for them to perform their jobs? (Note: You will need to perform a job hazard analysis to properly answer this.  For information, see OSHA Publication 3071 (Revised 1992), "Job Hazard Analysis."

3.  Problems. What would happen if a job or a procedure were not done safely?  Exactly what would happen if an employee performed in an unsafe or unhealthful manner?  What would happen if all employees did the same thing?  How serious would the consequences be?  Would the unsafe action or behavior affect just one employee, or all employees?

4.  Correction. For each type of safety and health violation you have identified, what kind of corrective action seems appropriate?  What would you do for a second offense, or for repeated violations of the same rule?  Should warnings be oral or written?  How long a suspension is warranted for what type of violation?  Are there any actions that should automatically result in termination?


For this last stage in developing your disciplinary system, you may find it helpful to develop a grid, like the one on the next page, to identify corrective actions for different kinds of violations and repetitions.





Unsafe work habits


Refusal to follow safety instructions


Unsafe actions that jeopardize self and others


It is useful to make a list of the kinds of violations that are considered major or serious and a second list of other types of behavior that, while not as serious, are still not acceptable. The following suggested rules can be starting point.

Major Offenses:

  • Failure to follow rules use of company equipment or materials
  • Horseplay in work areas or otherwise creating unsafe conditions
  • Tampering with machine safeguards or removing machine tags or locks
  • Not wearing required PPE
  • Provoking or engaging in an act of violence against another person on company property
  • Using or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job
  • Major traffic violations while using a company vehicle, and
  • Other major violations of company rules or policies

General Offenses:

  • Minor traffic violations while company vehicles
  • Creating unsafe or unsanitary conditions or poor housekeeping habits
  • Threatening an act of violence against another person while on company property
  • Misrepresentation of facts or falsification of company records
  • Unauthorized use of company property
  • Other violations of company policy and rules

Link each type of offense to a structured procedure f or corrective action. Your goal is to make sure that the corrective action is appropriate to the seriousness of the violation; that employees are given the opportunity to correct their own behavior; and that the system is workable, and consequently, used and useful.


Written Warning

No safety glasses


Unsafe work habits

Violation of other safety or health rule or regulation

Suspension (8 hours without pay)

Three or more safety or health violations of the same type

General overall record of unsafe practices

Refusal to follow safety and health guidelines or instructions


Excessive and repeated safety and/or health violations

Purposely ignoring safety and/or health rules

Unsafe actions that seriously jeopardize the safety or health of others

General disregard for safety and health of self and others

Source: Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).