Safetip #100: Create a Safety Incentive Program That is Balanced

October 18, 2017

This week’s Safetip is about creating a balanced safety incentive program that includes both past performance and proactive engagement.

A Badly Designed Program Can Lead to Non-Reporting

Many organizations use safety incentive programs to achieve occupational safety goals. But safety incentive programs are not without controversy. A badly designed program focused solely on reporting injuries and illnesses can potentially lead to one of the following scenarios:

  • If the incentives are very appealing, some participants may be tempted not to report, or under-report, to make sure they get the incentives (monetary bonuses, prizes, etc.)
  • However, if the incentives are not appealing enough, some participants may not feel encouraged enough to participate.

To avoid this dilemma, a safety incentive program should not focus solely on measuring past performance (i.e. lagging indicators such as the number of incidents), it should also focus on proactive engagement.

Include Different Categories in a Safety Incentive Program

Two articles, one from Safety+Health magazine and another from ISHN magazine, propose a solution to help design a balanced safety incentive program that includes past performance (lagging indicators) and proactive engagement (leading indicators). The solution consists of creating different categories and including them in the incentive program. Here is a list of the different categories that combines the ones mentioned in both articles, along with examples:

Safe Work: Safety meeting participation, safe acts recognized by a supervisor, zero incidents for the month, perfect attendance, etc.

Proactive Safety: Reporting near misses, reporting unsafe conditions, hazard identification, participating in safety audits, good housekeeping, completing safety training, etc.

Safety Leadership: Leading safety meetings, participating in root cause investigations, identifying unsafe factors, creating safety improvements, recognizing peers for safe acts, etc.

Safety Engagement: On-the-spot safe acts, above and beyond safe behavior, being a safety team player, off-the-job safety ideas, etc.

A balanced safety incentive program encourages workers to actively participate in a safety management system and to be engaged in a safety culture, increases safety awareness, and reduces incidents, while minimizing the risk of non-reporting or under-reporting of incidents.

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