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Top 5 Tips to Keep Employees Safe this winter

Safety in the workplace has always been a concern for management but especially when economic times are difficult and costs across the board are being scrutinized, keeping employees safe this winter should be top of mind. Safety accidents or even fatalities that occur in 2009 will have a lasting effect on the workplace and starting or re-evaluating a safety incentive program can help to minimize accidents and related costs in the near future. Recent research shows safety-related accidents that occur in 2009 will affect workplace insurance premiums for at least the four years following an incident.

The best way to minimize safety hazards in your organization is to start motivating employees to be safe with the help of a workplace safety incentive program. I have 5 tips below on keeping employees safe this winter so that you can begin to maximize the impact a safety award program has on your organizational performance this year.

Gather employee input on developing safety program goals and identifying workplace hazards

With the help of employees, a safety committee should list out the workplace hazards that can be minimized or avoided for each position. Some of my larger clients have conference calls with safety committees from different locations to ensure that all possible improvements and safety goals can be included in the safety program. I feel there is no better resource than front line employees-their insight can really help a safety program succeed for two main reasons. Employees can identify hazards that may have otherwise been overlooked and also employee participation in the planning stages of a safety program will lend credibility and legitimacy to the whole project once it is implemented.

Motivate employees to participate in the safety incentive program

The best way to entice employees to participate in workplace safety is to select the kind of safety awards that will motivate your employees. By including multiple price points and lifestyle merchandise, organizations can ensure there are safety awards available for many kinds of personal tastes. Lifestyle safety awards can range from brand name blenders and golf club sets to power tools and purses. They are sometimes hobby related and always of a brand name, high quality reputation. Allowing a person to select a gift and then work towards earning it is an excellent, proven motivator when the right kind of safety award is included in the program.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

The most successful safety incentive programs that I help administer are the ones who consistently communicate the goals and progress of the program to participants. Not every organization needs to use multimedia to communicate, but I always suggest looking at employee demographics to ensure participants are aware of the safety program. Emails are a common form of safety communication and can be personalized to inform participants of their username, password and available points to spend. For offsite workers such as contractors and constructions workers, mailed safety program account statements could function as a personalized update and an order form. Safety posters are also a good way to inform participants of ways to earn points and what the most popular incentive awards are being earned.

Recognize to energize

When significant milestones in the safety program are achieved, a formal recognition event can help to energize employees and reinforce safety attitudes in the workplace. Sometimes awards are presented at such safety ceremonies but oftentimes participants or safety teams are simply recognized in front of their peers for reaching safety milestones. End of year New Year’s kickoff event can also be prime time to present safety recognition awards and help to end or begin the year on the right foot.

Gather employee feedback and suggestions for improvement

Employee feedback should be gathered online or via a suggestion box so that participants have a voice and a stake in the safety program’s future. I advise clients to make sure both on and off site worker are able to easily provide feedback on the safety incentive program. As the safety program matures, different goals and even contests can be held to maintain interest in the program. I have often seen ideas for contests and new goals stem from an employee suggestion thus helping the company prevent safety hazards and solidifying a safety awareness culture in the workplace.

When safety programs are more of a collaborative effort as these five tips all suggest, they become cost effective and help to create a safety culture. Take into consideration these five tips when you start or re-evaluate a safety incentive program and you can motivate employees to be safe this winter and throughout 2009 with motivational safety awards.

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