How To Run A Successful Safety Program
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
(Sources: U.S. Department of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Safety Council)
DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM
Once the program's objectives are defined, decide when and how long the campaign will run. Most safety programs last anywhere from three to six months, which allows time for education and training sessions and significant results. Take into account the complexity of your work environment and how many behaviors you want to change.
Safety programs usually emphasize lost-time accidents. This design is the most tangible and easily understood by employees.
However, there are problems with this approach. For instance, if management bases safety awards solely on accident rates, employees may hesitate to report injuries. Also, if a department or work group has an accident two days shy of the six-month goal, they are going to feel all the hard work of the previous months was a waste.
The best approach is to make accident-free days part of the program, as opposed to the entire focus. For example, employees can be rewarded for reporting potential safety hazards, demonstrating their knowledge and training co-workers.
A growing number of companies focus on lost-time injuries. As long as a worker is not taken off the job for any significant length of time, these accidents don't count against the record. This approach encourages employees to report minor injuries or incidents before they become serious.
One option is to offer safety levels based on a point system. Workers earn points for accident-free days, as well as other safety achievements. At each level the participants receive an award. If a lost-time incident occurs, instead of going back to zero, the group returns to the beginning of that level, or is penalized a certain number of points. The organization would still track accident-free days, but it wouldn't be the only guideline for success.
Also decide whether participants will work as individuals or on teams. Most experts suggest a combo approach. Teamwork is necessary for long-term change and a true safety culture. However, innovation usually come from individual efforts.
Keep these issues in mind:
BUILD THE BUDGET
Break down the finances for a safety program into three major cost categories: administration, promotion and awards. The following factors should also be considered when determining the budget:
Keep in mind a high rate of employee turnover magnifies costs. Turnover increases the risk of accidents. Plus new employees must be trained. Incentive experts recommend spending on your program a maximum of 50% of the anticipated savings you expect to realize.
This is generally computed by multiplying the cost-per-accident amount by the anticipated percent of incident reduction. The final figure will represent your working budget.
As a rule of thumb, awards should claim 60% - 70% of the total budget.
Training should account for 10 - 15% of the budget, depending on the amount and complexity of the safety goals.
If you really want to change behavior, don't skimp on training and follow-up efforts.
Budget the remaining 10 - 15% for promotion and program administration.
Program administration costs fall under the safety department budget, unless an incentive firm is handling the project.
Administration includes enrollment and database maintenance, points and award tracking, updating and mailing of performance standings reports, preparing management reports, collecting data for 1099 and/or W-2 forms for winners and conducting a post-program evaluation.
PROMOTE THE SAFETY CAMPAIGN
While safety awareness seems a simple enough concept after all, every worker can relate to workplace hazards-achieving it is no small feat. Employees deal with a multitude of. distractions: production quotas, disputes with co-workers, takeover rumors, family issues, financial concerns, etc.
A strong promotional element to your incentive program will help get their attention. You have to get the word out and keep it going, so make communications a top priority.
The first part of the promotion will advertise the rules. The kickoff meeting and initial efforts should answer these questions:
A true safety culture requires discipline and the constant repetition of program objectives. Not necessarily fun concepts. Also, most people think that accidents happen to someone else, so it becomes tempting for them to tune out the program. The promotional incentive campaign must break through the routine of the normal work day.
Try to communicate with your target audience in some way every two to three weeks. These regular meetings will become the backdrop for a successful program. They are the most direct opportunity for immediate supervisors to reinforce the primary objectives of the program. Also, participants should receive a progress report, both for the group and individuals. Here are a few ideas for keeping the program fresh for participants:
Employees felt involved in the overall welfare of the company, and management gathered wonderful ideas for reducing injuries and costs.
By the six-month mark, more than 75% of the workforce regularly attended these gatherings. Employees found the meetings useful because they focused on problems and solutions impacting their every day lives. Also, the chance to win a gift certificate at every gathering was appealing.
SELECT THE RIGHT AWARD
It is critical to know who makes up your target audience. Once you identify the group that needs to be motivated, find out more about them as individuals with the help of a questionnaire.
You'll need to know the ratio of males to females, percentage of married to single, how many have families, how they like to be rewarded, etc. The answers will guide your award choices.
Overall, it's best to offer a wide variety of awards so recipients can choose what they want. Select merchandise with trusted, brand name recognition and warranties. For on-going catalog programs, make sure participants are notified of changes. Choose awards that can be delivered within a timely manner. Quick turnaround time ensures participants remember they are being rewarded for a particular achievement.
EVALUATE THE RESULTS
The end of the safety incentive is its most revealing part. If you established concrete, measurable goals and tracked your participants' behavior throughout the program, you'll have no trouble seeing the results of their efforts. Compare reports on production, accidents and lost-time to those from previous years in order to strengthen your case.
Be sure to ask the administrators if they encountered any snags in the running of the program and which elements they thought were most successful. Then consider all the tangible and intangible aspects of the program. This important analysis, documented and forwarded to management, will explain the success of the campaign and point out ways to refine future projects. Ask yourself questions such as:
An effective safety program can:
While it is important to get management's input on safety goals and concerns, also be sure to gather information from lower level supervisors and workers. These people provide valuable insight from first-hand experience.
As part of defining the goals of the program, create a brief, anonymous survey to learn what the rank-and-file consider to be the biggest risks.
Here are some sample questions:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Q. Why focus on changing attitudes on safety when people only look at accident and lost-time figures?
A. Studies show 90% of all workplace injuries are based on attitude, behavior and culture. A true safety awareness develops when employees keep the safe way to perform their jobs foremost in their minds.
One place to start is the award presentation. In addition to crowing about the numbers, address how the goals were achieved. Discuss which specific behaviors changed. Stress the journey, not solely the destination. If management only talks about the numbers, so will employees.
A furniture manufacturer enjoyed great success with a program that addressed safety at home. The idea arose because 60% of the lost-time injuries reported occurred off the job, an alarming stat that mirrored the national average. The project began with basic first-aid training for all employees and developed into a complete wellness program. This approach helped people develop improved habits overall, not one set of behaviors for work and another for home.
Q. What is the smoothest way to transition a safety program from cash awards to merchandise?
A. One company enjoyed success with a point-based system because it retained characteristics of the cash program. Participants earned awards for lots of different activities, such as membership on safety committees, attending workshops and training co-workers on new procedures. Points also were awarded for group and companywide achievements. Employees exchanged them for gift cards.
This straightforward, fair program offered an appealing array of choices to a diverse workforce. Furthermore, the design was flexible enough to allow for short-term incentives under the larger program umbrella.
Q. We just acquired a company with a history of safety problems. What should we do first?
A. Your safety team should be part of the first group from corporate headquarters to visit the newly acquired company. This will reinforce the importance of a safe workplace to the new employees.
Also, as part of the safety training, bring people from the new facility to your company for several days of on-the-job training. Observing the differences firsthand is the best way for them to learn and be able to pass on the information.
Q. How do we encourage employees to tell co-workers they are doing something wrong?
A. Changing the "I'm not my brother's keeper" attitude is tough. Drive home the fact that everyone is responsible for the safety of his or her co-workers and team. If you see someone doing something potentially unsafe, it's your duty to step in. You don't want him to hurt himself or anyone else. Remind them they are not snitching, but just looking out for their buddies.
Q. Should we distribute information on near misses?
A. Within the company, absolutely. Such information should be shared so managers can be on the lookout for similar problems in their area. It shouldn't be seen as an embarrassment. After all, an accident was avoided. Such behavior should be rewarded, not punished.
POST- PROGRAM SURVEY
Your safety incentive program isn't complete until you have heard from the participants. A final survey provides valuable information regarding whether the program met the participants' expectations, as well as ideas for subsequent incentives. A questionnaire should cover the following: