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Safety incentive programs

March 1, 2013

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How has technology changed or improved the way employee safety incentive programs are managed and executed?


Responding is Richard Flynn, director MIH, C.A. Short, Shelby, NC.

In our experience, safety professionals lack a strong safety incentive program within their safety and health management system because of limited time, limited expertise and, with staff cutbacks, limited resources to properly administer an effective solution.

Another reason is that safety professionals struggle with buy-in from upper management, especially at the C-level.

What today’s top-performing safety incentive programs have in common is proper and effective leveraging of technology that makes for much easier administration and a continuously evolving event/behavior-based approach that can be measured in real time, delivering executive reports that tie back to the incentive program’s strategic goals and objectives.

Below are two areas in which technology can improve how safety incentive programs are managed and executed.

Ease of administration

Safety professionals ask, “How much time is needed to support the program?”

Web-based management systems have proven to be time-savers in areas of organizations during the past decade. Recently, we have seen many organizations – large and small – deploy software or technology developed by leading safety incentive program vendors that reduces the time involved in handling data required for an incentive program.

Often, you have “processes” in place to measure, but the time-consuming administrative tasks to upload the data to implement an effective safety incentive program made it impossible without adding staff. You needed the tools to do it faster, more efficiently and more effectively. Those tools are now available. Features of this new technology include:

  • An end-to-end system that reduces costs and workflow
  • Around-the-clock access by program administrators and participating employees
  • No IT barriers
  • Specifically designed for safety and related functions
  • Seamless integration with other technology used for training, tracking observations, etc.

Strategic executive reporting

Justifying a safety incentive budget is difficult when asked, “What’s happening with the safety incentive program?”

As safety incentive programs evolve from reactive to proactive, organizations are using the data and reports from their programs to communicate safety culture change to the executive level.

A steady stream of up-to-date information can be had in real time. For example, if one goal was to support a culture of early reporting, events that could be measured include reporting of near misses and unsafe behaviors observed as a way to earn incentive awards. These events can easily be tracked in most incentive software. A points-based system adds several dimensions to a program, including the opportunity to “bank” points and store them for larger awards. Benefits of this new technology include:

  • Higher level of participation and buy-in
  • Improved communications
  • Accurate and real-time reporting
  • Right information to the right people
  • A unified strategy

With safety increasingly becoming a competitive business metric, there are many reasons to look at how technology can help safety professionals manage and execute effective safety incentive programs that OSHA has described as positive and “encourages or rewards workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, near-misses, or hazards; and/or recognizes, rewards, and thereby encourages worker involvement in the safety and health management system.”

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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