National Safety Month: Recognition Improves Safety
June is National Safety Month. What is your workplace doing to motivate, recognize and reward safe behavior?
As safety recognition programs become standard for many companies, best practices are emerging.
Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care in Colorado reduced safety incidents by more than a third since it introduced an incentivized safety program in 2009. The program focuses on public recognition in front of peers and sharing meaningful gifts with employees who stay safe.
“Essentially, we felt like money comes and goes,” Kelly Gouge, Swingle’s director of operations, tells Lawn & Landscape Magazine for a “Spotlight on Safety” feature in the May issue.
“But if we provide an item that means something to them — whether that’s fishing gear or a barbecue grill — then that item is always tied to that occurrence. Every time they go fishing, they remember how they got it, and that’s a pretty important connection to build into this program.”
Read on for safety recognition best practices at Swingle and other successful companies, plus resources for celebrating National Safety Month in your workplace in the coming weeks.
Safety Is No Accident: How Recognition Motivates Workplace Safety
“It’s all too easy to launch an exciting, new workplace safety program with colorful posters, theme buttons and a pizza lunch,” writes Jim Atten in the Occupational Health & Safety Magazine article “Building Workplace Safety with Rewards and Recognition.”
A workplace safety campaign needs more than posters and free pizza to motivate employees! Safety recognition programs turn safety into a community-wide priority by modeling and rewarding success.
Without a simple, ongoing safety incentive program, “your overall company safety results may fall short of your goals,” Atten cautions. “Recognition and reward for a job well done fulfills a basic human need for acknowledgement and affirmation. When we are recognized for our contributions, we naturally engage at a higher level and contribute more.”
When safety managers incorporate recognition and rewards into their safety programs, it drives up “positive safety behavior and ultimately … financial results.”
“What we’re really talking about is creating a culture of caring where each of us takes on the responsibility for keeping everyone around us safe,” he wrote in blog post this week. “Imagine the ripple effect we could have. That’s a great goal to have for National Safety Month and beyond.”
Jordan Contracting in Montana experienced a cultural shift when it started a points-based safety recognition program that encourages employees to report their safety observations.
Safety training videos and presentations from management can go in one ear and out the other, Jordan Contracting safety director Darryl Storey tells EHS Today.
But once they get to the job site, “new employees quickly see that the employees who already work here take safety seriously. In fact, some employees take the new employees under their wings and focus on the importance of the safety culture to them,” Storey says.
5 Safety Recognition Best Practices
Let’s dig into real-life examples and expert recommendations of safety recognition best practices. What works?
1. Set performance goals
What are you trying to achieve — fewer accidents, safety innovation, improved employee health, better understanding of proper machine use? Occupational Health & Safety recommends setting “SMART” goals for safety:
2. Reward incident-free employees
Offer small gifts to acknowledge employees without safety incidents. Swingle, the lawn-care company in Denver, shares small gifts at 30, 60 and 90 days — with bigger gifts and recognition for employees who make it a year or more without incident.
3. Also reward safety-related behaviors and activities
What about employees who report safety violations, make safety suggestions, take steps to remedy unsafe situations, or volunteer for the safety committee? They deserve recognition, too! Research shows that this type of proactive recognition creates “much more influential” engagement and results than programs that reward only incident-free employees, according to EHS Today.
4. Recognize employees in front of peers
Public recognition instills pride while setting an example for others. It also helps create a culture where safety is openly and readily discussed. At the New York-based energy company Wheelabrator, “safety was viewed as something extra” until the introduction of a comprehensive safety recognition program, according to EHS Today. Several years into the program, “it eventually got to the point where it became part of the work culture.”
5. Use gift certificates for on-the-spot rewards
“Gift cards are hot,” writes Occupational Health & Safety’s Jim Atten. “Low-cost rewards such as $10 gift cards for everyday necessities (gas, groceries, fast food) are perfect for on-the-spot rewards or as redemption options in a point-accumulation program.”
Stay #Safe4Life During National Safety Month
This month, focus on recognizing and celebrating the employees who make your workplace safe every day of the year!
National Safety Month is an initiative of the safety industry’s professional membership organization, the National Safety Council, along with its partner, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Their theme for the 2016 National Safety Month was “Safe For Life” (#safe4life on social media). Each week of June had a theme:
- Week One (through June 12): “Stand Ready to Respond”
- Week Two (June 13-19): “Be Healthy”
- Week Three (June 20-26): “Watch Out for Dangers”
- Week Four (June 27-30): “Share Roads Safely”
Both NIOSH and the National Safety Council offer a wealth of resources on their websites for organizations and workplace leaders, including social media tools, free online first aid and CPR classes, National Safety Month gear, a Safety Checkup quiz, a free webinar and a pledge to be safe at work.
Celebrate Employee Recognition Every Day!
Download our FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar for expert tips on engaging, recognizing and building a happy and loyal workplace every day of the year. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you build everyday workplace spirit with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.