Tips for a Successful Safety Incentive Program

Many companies have offered safety incentive programs where the measures used to indicate progress or achievement are accidents. If the company had fewer accidents than estimated (their goal), then employees were rewarded; if not, they were not rewarded. Many safety consultants find problems with this approach in that it establishes an environment where accidents or incidents may not be reported to keep the goal reachable.

An alternate approach has been used by some companies with success. The rewards are based on safety-related behaviors or activities. Some companies combine the two approaches. Regardless of the approach, the following tips may aid in creating and implementing a successful safety incentive program. The process of planning for this program should include both top management and workers.

LEGALObtain legal advice covering Internal Revenue Service issues regarding gifts, awards, or other items used in the program.

GOALSEstablish measurable and attainable goals, such as reducing OSHA recordable incidents by 50 percent compared to the last three-year average, scoring 80 percent or more on housekeeping audits over a six-month period, or observed safety behaviors.

BUDGETEstablish budget restrictions. Base it on a portion, such as 50 percent, of the anticipated savings from reaching safety goals.

ELIGIBILITYDetermine who will be eligible for awards. For example, will eligibility be based on individual or group safety performance?

RULES Establish written rules, such as whether employees will compete against their past safety records or will departments compete against each other; set time limits for the campaign; and post the rules for all to see and review. Try to anticipate potential problems when setting these rules; for example, if two departments tie for an award, will there be a tiebreaker or will both receive awards? Also, decide who will judge the competition.

AWARDSAllow workers to participate in the selection of awards, bearing in mind the established budget. Awards don’t need to be expensive – they may be as simple as a parking space on “management row” for the winner. While luxury items that employees normally would not buy for themselves should be considered, offering cash is not recommended. It is often helpful to divide anticipated savings by the number of eligible workers to establish a per-employee value to use when choosing awards.

STARTINGBefore implementing the program, ensure all needed materials ar available, including actual awards, tracking programs, judges, and informational handouts. Start with a flourish of promotions and consider giving away small tokens to capture employee interest.

PROMOTINGKeep employees’ interest up by regularly giving them information on their progress toward incentive goals.

WINNERSAnnounce winners and issue awards promptly. Interest may wane if there is a lag between the campaign’s end and the presentation of awards. Prompt conferral of awards also helps generate interest in the next campaign. The best results are obtained when top management not only supports the program, but is visible in promoting it and handing out awards.

POSTINGPost final standings promptly so that everyone knows where they finished.

RECOGNITIONProvide recognition, in addition to prizes. Have top management present awards, and give winners publicity in newsletters and on bulletin boards.

COPYRIGHT ©2006, ISO Services Properties, Inc.