Safety Incentives

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Do you want to put new life into your safety program? Do you want to create more awareness of and concern for safety? Do you want to provide greater employee safety focus? Do you want to reduce the number of near misses and accidents? Do you want to lower overall costs of your claims losses? Do you want the best possible workers compensation and insurance costs?

If you have answered yes to any or all of the above, you should consider setting up a safety incentive program. Incentives not only reward employees for following your safety program and not having accidents, but they help to keep safety in the forefront of thought. The use of incentives is another tool to help create more awareness of the need to be safe on the job and reduce the number of accidents. If the number of accidents is reduced, your workers
compensation and insurance costs could go down. Furthermore, the reduction in the number of accidents also leads to a reduction in the hidden costs of accidents such as lower employee morale, lost time, changes in production schedules, and lower production quality due to the use of less experienced fill-in help.

A safety incentive program fits with other elements of your safety program. Training in hazard awareness, accident prevention, safe procedures, emergency planning, electrical safety, lockout/tagout, etc., are necessary prerequisites and ongoing partners with an incentive program. Participants cannot be rewarded if they do not know what to look for, what to avoid, or what to do to prevent accidents.

Safety incentives come in a variety of forms. Each is designed to provide a reward with the hope of reducing accidents. The idea is to create a motivation for employees to become more aware of their work environment, their duties and how to do them safely. The focus on the reward, or the recognition that may come with the reward, adds an extra personal push or incentive for the employee to be cautious and aware while on the job.

An incentive program does not have to be expensive. Costs vary depending on the program and whatever amount you budget for your program can be controlled or capped. A study of 4,500 companies by the American Productivity Center and American Compensation Association showed that it may cost up to three times more in cash to reach the same results gained by non-cash incentives. So, it might be more valuable to offer tangible, non-cash rewards that may last longer and serve as a reminder of the accomplishment.

Some incentive programs are set up to reward an individual, some to reward a group. Others try to reward an individual and a group. Rewarding a group helps to create team safety, aiding group members to watch out for each other. This helps more employees become proactive in correcting potential hazards, unsafe conditions and behaviors. The incentives you may choose for your program vary in kind and cost. One may fit your overall safety program better than another. The challenge comes in finding an incentive that works for you.

Some types of incentives include:
•Trinkets such as mugs, hats, shirts, etc.
•Safety-toed shoes.
•Pizza parties.
•Monthly, quarterly or annual bonus.
•Gift certificates for restaurants.
•Safety bingo.
•Prize drawings monthly, quarterly or annually.
•Extra vacation time.
•Paid personal leave or paid time off.
•Recognition in newsletters and other company publications, and letters in employee’s file.
•Cash awards in varying amounts.

Time periods used to assess the goal of “no accidents” for awarding incentives also vary from program to program. Whether you set up monthly, quarterly or some other time period for your program, it is important to advertise the goals, the progress, the time periods and the incentives to all concerned. Do so often by way of newsletters, notes in paychecks, bulletin boards, etc.

Setting Up a Program
Define your goals - Determine what you want to accomplish. Such goals might be to increase safety meeting attendance or reduce recordable injuries. Find your baseline and go from there, setting specific numbers to be reached. Put goals in writing. Solicit input - Ask employees for suggestions and ideas. This helps sell the program to those who most impact the costs associated with accidents. Outline your plan - Check and re-check the costs, the
time involved, who to include (whether you are going to award individuals, groups or both), how to administer the plan, what the incentive is, the goal time periods, monitoring for progress, and how to introduce the program. Solicit more input, if needed.

E. Scott Geller suggests structuring an incentive program by:
•Outlining the goals required to earn the safety incentive. Goals should be perceived as reachable.
•Rewarding everyone who meets the goal.
•Rewarding many participants with small awards rather than a big award for one person.
•Displaying rewards to show safety accomplishment. Objects used for incentives should be available to be used, seen and carry a safety message.
•Not rewarding one group at the expense of another.
•Not penalizing groups for failure by an individual.
•Monitoring progress and communicating results for all participants.

Publicizing Your Program
After your incentive program is outlined, and approved, pick a start date and inform the participants in advance of that date. Use the start date to re-emphasize your commitment to safety. Periodically review the results and let the participants know what is happening in the efforts to reach the goals. Make adjustments to help you reach your accident reduction and cost-cutting goals as necessary. You should keep in mind that reviewing your program’s progress in important. If you see little or no change, you may want to change your program to help you reach success.


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NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes or standards.

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