August 28, 2017

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs

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Finding safety hazards at work and correcting them benefits employers in numerous ways. Reduced Workman’s Compensation insurance rates, increased productivity, and simply not having your people hurt are among them. Employees can be the best source of useful safety information in an organization. Safety incentive programs can present a way for employers to discover through their employees and correct potential safety problems that they may not have been aware existed. 

A word of caution, though, about a safety incentive program frequently used. Sometimes employers will use a procedure of awarding bonuses for number of days that the company goes without a reported injury.  While this plan does tend to make the workforce more cautious, it has a side effect of discouraging workers from reporting workplace injuries. Failing to report injuries is an OSHA violation. There is speculation that the day will come that denying an employee a bonus because of a reported safety violation or injury may become actionable either through OSHA or through a discriminatory workplace practice action. For these reasons, safety incentive programs of this nature are becoming much less popular.

Current trends in safety incentive programs seem to be toward simplification. The key to the program is to involve the workers on the job in the process since they are the ones who will know where the safety problems lie. Challenging employees with something as simple as a safety slogan contest has proven effective. An employee who becomes aware of a safety problem, then creates a slogan that is just irritating enough that his co-workers cannot get it out of their minds does the employer a real service. In addition, a safety suggestion box can yield real rewards. Regular programs to reward employees for a slogan or suggestion work to improve workplace safety.  he size and nature of the reward don’t seem to make a big difference, whether the reward is financial, time off, or even something like a preferred parking place for the month. The important thing is to reward safety initiatives without penalizing an employee for reporting an injury.