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How to Create an OSHA-Approved Safety Incentive Program

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By Steve Damerow

Rule 1: Accept that accidents happen and always report them

Since the Obama administration, OSHA has looked unfavorably on any incentive that promotes not reporting accidents. According to Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “A company whose incentive program has the potential to discourage worker reporting fails to meet the Voluntary Protection Program (VVP) safety and health management system requirements.”

In addition, OSHA inspectors frown upon companies that take disciplinary actions against employees for violating safety rules, or who are injured regardless of fault. A safety incentive program based upon preventing accidents and reporting observations or near misses, according to OSHA thinking, creates better end results than “perfect” records, because it acknowledges flaws in the safety environment before they become chronic.

Rule 2: Promote a safety-conscious work culture

Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA, also stated, “…We certainly are not opposed to all incentive programs. On the contrary, a positive incentive program that encourages or rewards workers for serving on safety and health committee (think inclusion), training…, reporting injuries, illness, near-misses or hazards can encourage worker involvement…An incentive program that encourages positive employee involvement is a valuable component…”

Rather than merely recording safety violations and incidents, OSHA places emphasis on keeping employees educated on safety. This prevents future incidents and facilitates a culture of workers who can self-monitor. Incentive program technology has the ability to educate workers through OSHA-compliant training features, and reward them for completing courses or correctly answering quizzes.

Rule 3: Contact the right safety consultant

OSHA is always updating and refining their policies. Contracting outside help to stay up-to-date is critical. A consultant can be responsible for assessing status, issues, goals and key performance indicators; creating and communicating learning and worker feedback; maintaining data; and, finally, working with and advising the reward fulfillment company.

Rule 4: Offer attractive and readily achievable rewards

Workers have to see a quid pro quo for their behavior. Just like any other incentive program, the question is: “What’s in it for them?” Consultants are needed to establish your specific organizational goals. You also need a full-time rewards fulfillment company with the critical mass and resources to supply a robust online rewards shopping mall, such as Incentive Solutions’ multi-functional program, which has a customizable platform offering more than 15 million items, event tickets and real time travel. You wouldn’t change your habits or behavior for a coffee, so why would your workers? New, online reward platforms give your workers vast reward options and an accessible, easy-to-use, familiar interface.

Rule 5: Utilize mobile apps

Smartphone and mobile app usage is prolific in today’s society. Offering a safety program through a mobile app is not merely a trendy accessory: mobile apps are designed to boost engagement. The easier it is for participants to access your program, the more likely they are to use it. Especially for on-the-go workers such as warehouse employees who may not sit in an office for much of their day, mobile apps can greatly encourage participation in your program. In conclusion: always report safety incidents, contact an expert to create a safety-conscious work culture, don’t try to fulfill the rewards yourself or through your promo product distributor, and take advantage of today’s user-friendly technology.

Steve Damerow (pictured above) is CEO of Incentive Solutions. He is a recognized expert and published author, and hosts the national radio show “Business Matters.” Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 100 incentive loyalty programs within the HVAC/plumbing/construction industries. He can be reached at sdamerow@isicorporate.com and 678-514-0203.    

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