How Safety Incentive Programs Promote Workplace Safety

Safety Incentive Programs and Workplace Safety

Workplace safety is a top priority for employers, but it can be difficult to establish appropriate safety standards and ensure adherence to those over time. Employers go to great pains to put the right protocols in place, but often don’t have an effective means for reinforcing those standards and encouraging employees to take an active part in the promotion of workplace safety.

That’s where safety incentive programs come in.

Safety incentive programs are at the heart of strong workplace culture

Safety incentive programs encourage employees to promote their company’s workplace safety program through a series of rewards, including compensation, workplace privileges and other incentives. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), safety incentive programs include rewards for identifying hazards with the aim of protecting worker health and safety.

The main benefits of implementing a safety incentive program in your workplace include:

  • Employees take ownership of your safety program: An effective safety program requires buy-in from all levels of the organization, from senior management down to junior staff. Safety incentive programs encourage employees to take ownership in fulfilling your safety policies and procedures, ultimately making them more effective for everyone.
  • Bringing your injury rate down: Safety incentive programs reward employees who report possible safety hazards and unsafe behavior. This helps employers put adequate precautions in place to prevent those hazards from turning into injuries, reducing the chances of a workplace accident.
  • Reducing your injury-related costs: Workplace injuries can be expensive. Not only do employers have to pay workers’ compensation costs, they also lose valuable experience when workers go down, leading to reduced productivity and efficiency. Preventing injuries from happening in the first place helps mitigate those costs.

Putting a safety incentive program in place demonstrates to employees that you take their health and safety seriously, making it an essential part of a healthy workplace culture.

Examples of safety incentive programs in action

Employers use a number of different award structures as part of their safety incentive programs. Here are some of the most common:

  • Financial compensation: The simplest way to incentivize workers is to offer them additional compensation for reporting safety hazards. Whether that’s in the form of gift cards, holiday bonuses or an outright pay bump, many employees will be encouraged to promote workplace safety if they know their take-home pay is going to increase.
  • Workplace privileges: Money doesn’t motivate everyone, and some employees won’t respond to a few extra dollars in their pockets. You might also consider offering additional workplace privileges as incentives. These could include additional break time, more time off or access to professional development opportunities.
  • Team-building activities: Your safety incentives can also double as team-building initiatives. Reward your employees with dinners, parties or other team outings that give them the opportunity to bond in nonwork settings. In addition to promoting employee safety, this can help them build tighter personal bonds that improve their job satisfaction and work performance.

Ultimately, selecting the right incentives for your company comes down to the interests, preferences and motivations of your employees. It’s important to take the time to understand how best to motivate your employees to ensure the success of your incentive program.

How to create a safety incentive program in your workplace

Creating an effective safety incentive program can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these simple steps to start earning greater buy-in from your employees for your safety program:

1. Establish a safety committee

Promoting workplace safety in any form always starts with a safety committee. This is a dedicated team of individuals who are responsible for setting safety standards, identifying safety hazards, creating a workplace safety program and hosting safety training sessions.

Having an established safety committee in place ensures that you have a team of professionals who will take the lead on the formation (and reinforcement) of a safety incentive program. This is the critical first step to ensuring the long-term success of your incentivization system.

2. Understand your safety goals

Building a good safety incentive program starts with understanding what you’re trying to accomplish. Conduct a complete assessment of your entire safety program and identify where your shortcomings are to know where incentives would deliver the most impact.

For example, you might find that certain jobs suffer from hazard under-reporting more than others, or that your organization suffers disproportionately from one kind of injury. Information like this will help guide your efforts as you build your incentive program to ensure you’re getting the most from your program.

3. Create a system of rewards

Rewards are what drive your safety incentive program, so it’s important to offer awards that your employees actually value. Take the time to survey your employees to understand what would motivate them most to uphold your safety standards.

Any of the options described in the previous section are fair game, but it’s a good idea to include a balance of financial and nonfinancial incentives. This keeps your program from feeling like a simple monetary payoff and creates more lasting value for your employees.

When building your incentive program, you should avoid rewarding employees when injuries or accidents don’t take place. Strategies like these can cause retaliation and discourage employees from reporting incidents when they happen, which only make matters worse.

4. Maintain a commitment to your incentive program over time

It can be easy for employees to forget about your safety incentive program once other priorities emerge or the busy season sets in, potentially causing your safety program to revert to square one.

It’s important to routinely remind your employees about the rewards they’re entitled to receive for reporting safety hazards. This keeps safety on the top of their minds throughout the day and year and encourages them to flag hazards despite changing priorities in other areas of the business.

Ready to get started building your safety incentive program? Our Solutionists at FFVA Mutual are here to help!

We work with you to identify safety hazards, build proper safety programs, provide safety training and undertake other tasks related to supporting workplace safety. Reach out to our team to learn more.

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