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In your experience, have Safety & Health incentives proved to be an effective tool to engage employees and keep them interested in these programs or do employees ten to hind injuries and near misses to safeguard the incentives awards?

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Safety incentive and recognition programs can (and are) extremely effective at changing employee behaviors, that is a proven fact. Having said that, what matters is how these programs are planned and implemented. I have seen many a well intended safety incentive program go bad due to several factors. The program is all about trying to lure change by dangling awards in front of the employees. Awards are great as a motivational tool, but it has to be the right award for the audience and they have to actually be able, if they really change their safety behavior, to earn (not win, a whole other problem area) that award. The other side is the budget process. If these programs are established with a budget that has been under-funded, it simply will not work. Safety incentive programs, again, properly planned and implemented, can (and do) create a positive Return on Investment (ROI). That investment does have a risk attached to it, as any other would. The difference here is that investment risk will prove to be lower than any other investment risk your company can take and the returns will be higher.

Yes, these programs work, if properly planned and implemented!
The hiding of near misses and injuries comes when employers reward their workforce in groups. The peer pressure alone will discourage an employee from reporting an accident; they do not want to let the entire group down by not making their monthly safety goals. A properly implemented safety incentive program should be designed to reward the individual, not a group. While rewarding for group goals can be a supplement to the program, the main focus must lie in rewarding the individual. With that said, there is no substitute for a well structured safety incentive program; they encourage employees to pay more attention to the task at hand, thus creating a safer work environment for everyone around.
Brian, As Mr. Dawson had alluded to in his comments above, the design elements and earning criteria a safety incentive program are crucial to the program success.
There is a place for 'group safety rewards' if the structure is right...
Group rewards however should not be the primary focus, nor should they represent a significant share of the potential reward benefit that may be obtained. 25% of the total if targets are fully acheived would be a sensible maximum to distriute from the total amount budgeted annually.

For instance, benchmarking should be done based on experience...if improvement is gained against the benchmarks, for instance, a drop in LTA's against the benchmark, lets say by 25 % in a measured period, then perhaps 50% of the pre-allocated pool of "group reward" value may be distributed to this group. (This would be 1/2 of the 25% of the total budgeted amount for the entire safety based rewards program). The balance or remaining 75% should be reserved for individual achievement garnered through well communicated and specific criteria that is focused on apecific challenges and areas of concern.
Compliance issues such as injury hiding are much more severe breaches than a 'rewards program' is intended to influence and should be dealt with accordingly.

C
Take a look at www.safetyawardstore.com
Lots of great ideas that can be customized with your logo and/or safety message & milestones for your next safety award, incentive or reminder.

John--

OSHA wants recognition to be leading vs lagging indicators which would eliminate non reporting and reward positive safety performance. Please feel free to contact me to learn more. www.LinJenSafety.com   Thanks, Linda

This question has not gone away and as recently as this year safety and incentives have been a hot topic of discussion found at the websites, EHSToday.com and OHSonline.com. The answers and possibilities are assessed and viewed with the same pros and cons, even over several years. My own opinion awards and incentives change based on mood of management. There is a middle road to follow that can be positive for the company, the team, and the individual. Using incentives for the collective and with a little bit of psychologic manipulation and team work, using the right incentive program such as a trip, and awards as the tool, this can lead an entire company, division, or team to do better and show or acknowledge good work. I am thinking that intern, the use in this way will then be used by the group of recipients, passing down the points and objectives for the award and incentive, down to individual worker using peer pressure. No negative repercussions such as one worker is better than the other is lessened! The incentive is given to an entire group so that  a company wide goal can be better reached, In the end, incentives can be realized by the individual as well as the group. The ideas of incentives can be creative and limitless. A group gets a paid to attend a retreat for team building,  shows, etc. In the end a team approach develops along with positive changes in individual behavior. There are other ways, we just need to be creative and actually care about what one wants to do! A incentive can be felt long term such a reward of involving family or instituting programs for the employees' family.

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