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When an employee is injured, the clock begins ticking on how soon he will return to work—and with what kind of attitude. The longer people are off, the more disconnected they feel from their jobs and supervisors, and the more reluctant they become to return to work. Productivity and morale suffer. You ultimately pay more money for their time off work, for their health care, and for your worker’s compensation insurance premiums.
The best action to take is preventative—stop accidents from happening in the first place. Your goal is to get your employees involved in employee safety incentive programs that will reduce the costs of worker’s compensation premiums. They can also participate in monitoring the integrity of the company’s physical space, which ultimately reduces building repair and insurance costs.
You’ve got to spread the message to your employees that achieving and maintaining safe surroundings is the responsibility of everyone, not just one department such as maintenance or housekeeping. Here are several suggestions for tried-and-true employee safety incentive programs—use them alone or in combination:
- Create an award to be given when an employee is nominated by his peers for demonstrating safe performance on the job. When someone reports an unsafe condition in the company, and another employee nominates him, he can be recognized for his contribution. His action must, however, be outside the scope of his regular responsibilities. If a supervisor stops employees from pouring unlabeled chemicals down the drain, the supervisor would not be eligible because that’s his job. If someone notices that a waste basket is on fire and properly utilizes a fire extinguisher to put it out, that is recognizable. Awards can be as big as an entire day given off work or a smaller prize like a small gift card for the local gas station. What the employee will enjoy most is the recognition he gets for his actions.
- Establish a safety program in which employees must fulfill a series of criteria in order to earn a safety award. Once he meets all the criteria, he receives recognition and the prize. The steps to the award could include answering the safety quiz in the employee newsletter for several consecutive months; attending a company-sponsored course such as CPR, first aid, food safety, or an industry-specific topic; submitting a proposal to prevent future occurrences when there is an accident; alerting the company to safety hazards; or similar activities.
- Assign employees to safety teams that inspect company areas for hazards on a monthly basis. Recruit specific employees to become involved in the training of new employees. Reward those who are chosen for these responsibilities and recognize their contributions by giving them tokens. Employees can accumulate tokens as they achieve various goals and then cash them in when they have enough tokens to pay for the prize they want. You present a choice of prizes; some employees will be happy to cash tokens in for something small, and others will save up for a big award.
- Accept suggestions to improve safety and award prizes to those that merit recognition. In order to undertake this, you can show employees how to conduct a job safety analysis, which will get them thinking. Suggestions should be submitted to the safety committee, and those with merit will receive recognition and awards.
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What’s Trending Out…
It’s interesting to note that some supervisors avoid setting up cooperative safety efforts—whether this involves assigning people to share responsibility as a team or just grouping them according to department. When people share responsibility for winning the prize, they hesitate to report incidents because they don’t want to be the one to ruin the team’s chances. Some managers feel the same about drug testing after accidents, saying that people fail to report incidents when they occur because they don’t want to take the test.
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The Big Payoff
Once you hook your people in with an interesting employee safety incentive program, they will become invested in working to maintain safety along with you. The reason why safety incentive programs work is because they get people to think about safety, and then they are more conscientious about avoiding hazardous conditions or actions. Your safety program will also provide an opportunity to discuss work-related stress, which is a factor in many accidents. Your statistics can only improve.