A reader writes:
I work as a technician in a manufacturing plant. Early last year, I was the victim of a workplace injury for which I had to take a week off in order to recover. However, once I reported it, someone from the HR department drove me to a clinic immediately, and a workers comp claim was filed and approved so all medical expenses were covered, and I fully recovered without any permanent damage, so I didn’t give that incident much thought afterward.
However, just this week, the plant put up a great big new sign in the main hallway that has a counter of the Days-Hours-Minutes-Seconds without a workplace injury that led to time-lost. The current readout proclaims that it has been over four years since a workplace injury, which is bogus since my injury happened less than a year ago, and I missed an entire week and a worker comp claim was approved. I feel so insulted every time I walk past that sign, since I know it’s bogus, and it seems as if the company is forgetting or ignoring what happened to me. How should I react? Should I question the veracity of that sign to upper management? Am I justified in feeling insulted and ignored every time I walk past that sign? What do you think of the fact that they are portraying false information to all the employees?
Well, often the correct explanation is the simplest: Maybe they just got it wrong.
I wouldn’t feel insulted by this, particularly since you don’t know whether it was intentional or inadvertent. Why not just ask?
But it’s not upper management that you want to ask; it’s HR, since they’re the ones who track workplace injuries. Go talk to whoever in HR handles this, and say something like this: “Hey, I saw that there’s a sign in the main hallway now tracking how long it’s been since there was an injury, and I think it has the number wrong. I actually had a workplace injury last year that led to my missing a week of work. I thought I’d mention it so that the number can be corrected if it’s wrong.”
Notice how that wording isn’t accusing anyone of wrongdoing? It’s just offering information on the assumption that of course they’d want to have it, and not making a huge deal about it.
Now, obviously if they grab you by the collar and tell you to never mention your injury again, or otherwise behave sinisterly, then you can confidently assume that they’re intentionally fudging their statistics. But until/unless that happens, I’d assume you’re dealing with a plain old boring oversight.