Safety and OSHA News

Safety incentives that don’t discourage injury reporting

Now that OSHA is keeping an eye out for incentive programs that discourage workers from reporting injuries, what can you do to encourage safe practices?

When reported on the OSHA recordkeeping inspection program, readers responded with their best safety incentive ideas that don’t discourage injury reporting:

  • Bill B.: True safety incentives are a positive reinforcement of the safety culture. We have set up a program for “on the spot” recognition for above and beyond safety actions. Seems to be working on our construction site with 20 contractors and over 70 workers.
  • Dave B.: Supervisors should reward safe practices like wearing PPE, reporting hazards or developing safe solutions. When the employees wearing proper PPE and following safety procedures get all the free stuff, it doesn’t take long for the other employees to join in.
  • Safety Sam: I developed a plan to base incentives on employee participation instead of simply not getting hurt. I made a list of things that I wanted to get done, and then presented that to the employee safety committee with the mandate to base getting the incentives on getting this stuff done. It was hugely successful and took away any edge that OSHA might have had in using our incentive plan against us. (Sam is at an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program site.)
  • Tim H.: (1) Base the incentive on behavior (individual and collective) not injury reports, and (2) Structure a supervisor’s performance review so that a failure to make a required injury report is a negative.
  • Alex: (Our plan is) based on proactive activities reported to and recorded and audited by the safety department. Measurements include number of near-misses reported, job/task observations, area inspections, safety team meetings, completion of compliance and awareness training, and monthly safety topics.

Even more comments had this general theme: Reward positive safety behavior, not a lack of injuries.

You can take our Quick Poll on safety incentive programs on our home page.

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  1. We are having an opposite problem here. First, I don’t think employees should be rewarded for doing something they are supposed to do anyway (like the wearing all PPE statement). Our problem here is that our incentive program rewards for putting in extra effort, but that’s not enough of a motiviation for some employees. A lot still are not putting in the effort and not being rewarded. They are rewarded for reporting incidents but in our company, a lot of times employees are injured by not following a safety procedure and are therefore disciplined. We have a VERY good safety record and I feel that it is not our incentive program that might discourage injury reporting but harming that record that would do it and fear of discipline.

  2. This certainly is an old and tired argument. Ask yourself this; Is there risk of under reporting regardless? Maybe that’s a better question. How about the riks of over reporting? Does this help equalize things at all? If the overall risk/reward of safety incentive programs in effect maginalizes some reporting that is “arguably over or under” yet reinforces and helps sustain improved safety behavior overall, then how is this a bad thing. Now if you’re a lawyer, you can’t have it both ways can you? You need a line to be crossed so you can make money right? Personally and professionally I don’t care about what lawyers think in this matter. I’m only concerned with what the employees think and how they respond when they succeed and meet a goal and ultimately avoid injury. That side of the issue doesn’t ever seem to come up with this whole issue.

    In fact, wouldn’t any reasonable safety incentive program give employees pause in hopes of avoiding injury? Shouldn’t we want employees focused on avoiding injury? Human beings should not want to be injured, corret? How about employees injured at home over the weekend, then come into work with a limp, stiches, or with some form of limitation…and they report that it indeed happened at home and not at work, as it should be reported; leaving a work safety incentive goal intact….is that bad?

    The present administration does not want to acknowledge that in recent years things have actually improved. It just simply cannot be; from their political platforms. The government needs to be able to take full credit through enforcement to justify their existance. Even though strong partnerships have been made with the VPP and other more supportive and collaborative efforts in recent years, the stage just isn’t big enough to give Private Industry and their efforts any credit whatsoever.

    Targeting Safety Incentive programs to convince themselves that Priave Industry is still terrible and wrong and abusing it’s workers and the system is a clear example of the government’s ability to relate to the real world with real people, trying to create real value, in a country that has soley subsidized gloablization at a great expense…..I digress.

    Bottom line is, mature companies many smaller and newer companies understand the costs and losses due to unsafe work practices long before they even consider what their OSHA log looks like. Sorry OSHA, you’re just not the first priority on everyone’s mind. Get over yourself.

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