Most companies care about their employees’ safety and sometimes use games like Safety Bingo or signage that reports safety records, like days without an accident, to encourage safe behavior. However, these well-intentioned incentives don’t always improve safety. In fact, using incentive-based prizes that reward employees for working safely may unintentionally lead employees to suppress injury and illness reporting. Underreporting to win prizes has two harmful side effects:
1.Underreporting can slow down hazard identification and resultin misinformed decisions about workplace safety programs andpractices – putting your workplace at risk. A successful safetyprogram may even have a high number of incidents reported.This allows management to target resources and training where itwill do the most good.
2.Discouraging workers from reporting injuries and gettingtreatment early can cause more serious injuries that require timeaway from work to heal. This results in higher workers’ compcosts, injuries that may permanently impact the worker’s return towork and the high cost of turnover.Design a safety program that rewards worker participation and encourages injury and illness reporting.
The following tips may help:
- Reward employees who identify hazards orparticipate in investigations of injuries, incidents or close calls.
- Revise your incentive program if any part of it is deterring injury and illness reporting.
- Create a policy that prohibits retaliation against employees who report injuries and illnesses.
- Provide gifts to workers serving on safety and health committees.
- Play games that test employee knowledge of job hazards and safety practices.
- Offer modest rewards for employee suggestions that strengthen the safety and health program.
- Throw a recognition party at the successful completion of company-wide safety and health training.
The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project was developed by the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries.
The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project team and the TIRES steering committee are working with the Washington State trucking industry to identify causes for the most frequent injuries to develop effective strategies for preventing them. Free safety training materials are available at KeepTruckingSafe.org.
The TIRES steering committee is made up of a diverse group of professionals that includes: drivers, safety people from large and small trucking companies, labor and business associations, insurers and a representative from a publicly funded truck driving school.
Funded in part by a grant from CDC NIOSH 5 U60 OH 008487. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC/NIOSH.