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Safety Incentives – The Changing Face of a Successful Program

- November 1, 2018 by Rhyanne Skinner, CSP (View all posts by Rhyanne)

ICW Group Risk Management professionals advise employers that safety incentive programs that are based on lost time and lack of accidents, or tied to production and performance are be avoided.  Those programs encouraged lack of reporting and attention to true injury needs, which is really a “lagging” indicator of safety since it skews the statistics and ultimately allows small incidents to go unreported that could have resulted in intervention. Instead, we now encourage employers to develop programs that reward the safe behaviors you want to see from your general employees and supervisors/managers.

In general, we encourage employers and their management team to evaluate their current safety programs, particularly safety rules (aka code of safe conduct, code of safe practices) to ensure you’ve got a good base for do’s and don’ts. Likewise, we also consider any loss trends you have identified through your most recent (3-5 years) claims history as well as any non-injury and near miss trends as sources for behavior modifications. For example, you’ve had lots of eye injuries; the program should encourage proper PPE use and selection. Or, you’ve had lots of back injuries; the program should identify and provide proper training in lifting/handling and body mechanics and then reward correctly using those techniques.

Rewards should be immediate and appropriately valuable. Consideration should be given to what motivates your employees; individually and as a group. Some group-based rewards should be considered to encourage group cooperation and accomplishments as well as individually based to recognize individual actions. Most programs lose momentum because the rewards become less valuable and/or don’t provide accurate and prompt recognition. A program that is flexible and can be easily adaptable as personal motivations and reward values change will be one that can stand the test of time.

Considerations for your management team:

  • What unsafe behaviors do you observe regularly? Why do you think they occur so frequently? What can you do to encourage a better more-safe behavior? What is that behavior?
  • Do you have any safety “pet-peeves” you’d like to discourage the wrong behavior and encourage the one you prefer?
  • What do you think could be done to immediately reward safe (“good”) behavior and/or discourage unsafe (“bad”) behaviors? What could you realistically do, what are you willing to do?
  • What do you think your employees would find valuable? Money? Time off? Gift cards (to where, how much?)? Team/company parties? Big ticket items (TV’s, hunting/fishing gear, etc.)? Are they competitive?

Once you have an idea what you want to accomplish (i.e., what behaviors you want to change and reward) and who will be the administrators you can start identifying which type of reward system will work for your establishment. Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll discuss ideas on types of reward systems for your consideration.