What is a Safety Incentive Program?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A safety incentive program is a workplace program that encourages employees to use safe practices to minimize accidents, injuries, and hazardous conditions. Such programs can take a number of forms, from prizes for the safest departments in a company to bonuses for employees known to have exemplary safety records. Companies must pair such programs with safety education and enforcement to make them as effective as possible.

Adequate safety training is necessary, including on the job training, certifications for people working in hazardous locations, and employee handbooks with safety directions.
Adequate safety training is necessary, including on the job training, certifications for people working in hazardous locations, and employee handbooks with safety directions.

Maintaining safe working conditions is a concern in many industries. Government agencies set a number of policy rules for keeping conditions safe, and workplaces must abide by them. A safety incentive program encourages employees to take an active role in meeting safety standards, reporting violations, and quickly adopting new safety conventions.

Safety incentive programs encourage adherence to safety standards in the workplace.
Safety incentive programs encourage adherence to safety standards in the workplace.

Adequate safety training is necessary, including on the job training, certifications for people working in hazardous locations, and employee handbooks with safety directions. This should be paired with the use of safety compliance officers who inspect the workplace regularly to identify safety concerns and make sure employees are following safety policies. The safety incentive program becomes another component, providing active rewards for keeping the environment safe.

Employers must be careful about how they structure a safety incentive program. They do not want to create programs that encourage employees to conceal accidents or not raise safety concerns. Instead, they want to reward employees and departments for activities that increase safety. These can include a good record on remaining accident-free, prompt responses to reports of safety violations, and changes in departmental practices that result in a decrease in accidents and illness.

Individual employees can be recognized with awards or prizes, as can departments. This can also facilitate retention by making employees feel like members of a group and providing employees with a sense of worth and value. The safety incentive program can pit departments against each other in friendly safety competitions to encourage workplace-wide adoption and adherence to safety standards. This can build cooperation within departments by giving people a common goal and encouraging them to work together.

Some examples of incentives can include parties for safe departments, individual recognition, cash prizes, and bonus payments to safe crews. The safety incentive program should not penalize unsafe departments, as this can potentially create legal problems. Instead, it should focus on rewarding safety and providing employees with clear goals to reach so they can focus on a safety target and reach it. Once departments reach targets, they can be presented with new goals to improve their safety.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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