What You Need to Know about Safety Incentive Programs

Safety incentive programs can transform your workplace, but they require careful planning. These initiatives reward employees for practicing safe behaviors, ultimately reinforcing your safety standards. There are two main program types: rates-based and behavior-based. Rates-based programs rely on injury statistics for rewards and can inadvertently discourage injury reporting. In contrast, behavior-based programs encourage safe practices and reporting of hazards or near misses. Studies show that well-designed programs can reduce workplace injuries. To implement one successfully, begin with a strong safety foundation, pinpoint high-risk areas, set a budget, communicate clearly, and continually assess its impact. Prioritize employee well-being with safety incentives.
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Many employers agree that accidents happen far too often in the workplace. Implementing a culture of safety is difficult because it is often seen as a technicality or an inhibitor of work. When done correctly, these programs can save companies millions of dollars in worker’s compensation costs and decrease lost time due to injury. On the other hand, a safety incentive program that does not prioritize reporting can wreak havoc in the workplace. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about safety incentive programs.

What are Safety Incentive Programs?

A safety incentive program, at its core, rewards employees for performing safe behaviors at work. These rewards-based initiatives encourage employees to uphold the given safety standards in the workplace. 

There are two primary structures that can be used for a safety incentive program. The first is a rates-based program. This type of program uses the number of accidents or injuries at a worksite as the basis for the rewards program. For example, the goal may be to decrease the number of monthly injuries by 15%. There is a major concern with rates-based programs because they can lead to unreported injuries, especially when team rewards are concerned. In 2016, OSHA published a clarifying statement on its stance on safety incentive programs. In the statement, OSHA stated that it does not prohibit the usage of safety incentive programs, but it does prohibit employers from using programs that discourage employees from reporting injuries. OSHA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting injuries or accidents. 

The other type of program is behavior-based. Behavior-based safety incentive programs focus on rewarding safe behaviors, like following safety protocols, reporting accidents, or reporting hazardous conditions. The key component of behavior-based incentive programs is that they encourage reporting hazards and near misses, which can help employers improve the safety of the worksite.

Can you Really Incentivize Safety?

Safety incentive programs can help to reduce injuries and accidents in the workplace and positively reinforce safety policies. Several studies conducted on the performance of safety incentive programs show that they may actually improve the safety of the workplace. One such study, conducted in 2010, showed that construction worksites that implemented a safety incentive program saw a 44.16% reduction in the mean lost-time workday injury rate. On the other hand, construction sites without the incentive program had a 41.84% increase in the mean lost-time workday injury rate. 

Statistics alone may not be a true representation of the effectiveness of safety incentive programs because poorly designed programs may cause under-reporting. Also, in 2010, a different report showed that 75% of US manufacturers with safety incentive programs were utilizing programs that may impinge on workers’ safety reporting. 

How to Build a Safety Incentive Program

A good safety incentive program always starts with a solid workplace safety program. A safety incentive program should complement workplace safety, not replace it. Next, identify the most at-risk areas in your company. These can be places where new policies were recently implemented or places where safety is a struggle. Try to focus on incentivizing staff to perform safer in areas that were most challenging in the past. Determine what indicators you will use to determine safety, such as the number of injuries or the number of hazard reports. 

The next step is the set a budget for the program. To do this, consider the types of incentives you plan to offer, like time off, gift cards, or companywide recognition. The next, and perhaps most important step, is communication. Ensure that managers and supervisors have all the information they need to engage their teams. When introducing the program to staff, speak clearly and make sure they understand the purpose of the program and all the incentives that are available. It is important to field questions early on so everyone is on the same page. 

As time goes on, analyze the impact of the safety incentive program by utilizing the previously determined indicators. Make adjustments to the program as necessary. 

Use an outside safety consultant, like Work Health Solutions, to help you identify existing and potential hazards in your workplace!

Examples of Incentive Programs

There are many ways you can incentivize your employees to perform safely in the workplace. Here are some examples of safety incentives that are easy to implement: 

  • Time-off: An extra paid vacation day or the ability to leave work early on a Friday for a long weekend are great incentives for safety.
  • Gift Cards: Offer gift cards to a range of stores and restaurants for varying amounts. Cash gifts are difficult regarding taxes for both the employee and employer, so stick to gift cards if you offer monetary incentives.
  • Companywide Recognition: Oftentimes, recognition is one of the best incentives for safety. Acknowledging a job well done is a great way to incentivize safety and improve employee morale. 
  • Charity Donations: Have employees select a charity of their choice. Donate a specified amount of money to their chosen charity each time they meet a certain safety standard.

Safety incentive programs are a great way to make employee well-being a top priority in the workplace!

How Can We Help?

Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. Our quality service is backed by years of experience working with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small governments, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions you may have about how we can assist you!

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