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Implementing an Effective Employee Safety Award Program

Safety in the workplace is not an accident, but rather achieved through the concerted efforts of management and employees. Dr. James A. Kaufman, founder and president of the Laboratory Safety Institute, asserts in his article on laboratory safety tips, “The effectiveness of safety programs depends on their ability to motivate people to care about their health and safety. When people view this caring process as part of their whole life and not just part of their job, it becomes all the more effective.”

Successful safety awards, as noted by Dr. Kaufman, have to inspire the targeted audience to adopt a safety culture-at work and at home. Setting up an effective safety award program is much like setting up an incentive award program, and can be summed up in five important points.

To begin, deciding on a budget for the safety program is essential. Knowing the total budget amount allotted and a good estimate of the number of awards that will be given each year, one can calculate the per person dollar value to safely spend on each award. By starting with the safety award budget, one can then ensure that the program is administered fairly and appropriately.

The next step is to establish goals that are relevant and attainable for program participants. A recent survey by NFIB found that over 84% of companies polled saw a reduction in accidents after implementing a safety award program. However, safety programs can do more than just reduce the overall accident rate; they can help to solidify a safety culture in the workplace or jobsite.

Many clients will ask specifically what types of goals are common for other clients to include in their safety programs. There are many different goals that a company can use within a safety award program and I think that all of these program objectives can be put into two categories-ongoing and one-time.

Ongoing goals include perfect attendance (usually monthly), being a member of a safety team that provides safety improvement ideas and implementation, being certified in 1st aid, CPR and AED – a first responder, participating as a safety committee member and reaching quarterly or monthly goals of no recordable accidents.

On the other hand, one-time goals for safety programs are comprised of peer to peer recognition/nomination for a safety practice/good behavior, reporting near miss, developing an action plan to eliminate a hazard, completing an annual physical, identifying a safety hazard and developing an action plan, submitting safety improvement ideas and conducting a safety audit or safety presentations.

In addition, the safety awards that are given to employees as they reach goals should not be a one-size fits all gift. Allowing participants to select from a range of lifestyle merchandise will provide the employee with a desirable safety award that will enforce the reason behind the gift-working toward safety compliance in all facets of a person’s job.

After the goals have been decided upon, the next key to an effective safety program is figuring out how the program will be communicated. By using multiple media to present the safety award program to participants, everyone can understand what the program entails and how it is personally relevant. Safety posters, emails and statements are all great ways to communicate the safety incentives to program participants.

Lastly, successful safety programs will be able to provide management with reporting to show the success and popularity of the program. Without this capability, the return on investment cannot be justified. Safety program coordinators should be able to see what goals people are achieving and how this translates into cost savings.

Safety incentives are a great way for an organization to not only cut the costs associated with accidents, but also improve the safety culture of the workplace. Whether in the workplace or on a jobsite, safety awards have proven to be an effective way to motivate participants to achieve their safety goals.

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