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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Safety Recognition Programs

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Safety recognition programs for employees, implemented correctly, can be successful in reducing injuries and saving money. But, if executed poorly, can do more harm than good.

Employees may try to rig the system to get a reward for better safety reports. Some workers will work slower to increase safety. Also, if managers and owners are not behind a safety program, it has little chance of success.

To avoid the potential failures, properly plan a recognition program with realistic goals, and include rewards for achieving those goals.

Once initiated, be ready to adjust goals and procedures as needed, and to keep workers and managers on their toes. And continue to manage the program with attention to detail.


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Dan Clark: Hey there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction work sites. Let’s get down to business.

You have a noble goal. You want to reward workers for good safety. Beware! Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’ll say it again. Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

safety_recognition_programs-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Yes, these programs can work very well, or fail miserably. It takes careful planning and realistic goals to develop a quality safety recognition program for employees. Let’s go through the problems, and then the benefits, and then actually creating the program.

#1. Problems.

A. Fixing the numbers. The employees will only do what is necessary to meet the required numbers. They may even stop reporting injuries to have a good safety record for a certain time period.

B. They may actually slow down. Some employees will lessen their pace to improve the safety record, reducing production.

C. No incentive. If you’ve got a program without incentives or some sort of reward, it’s unlikely that employees will be engaged.

D. No follow-through. If the company doesn’t keep up with the program, the workers will lose interest quickly.

E. The lack of supervisor support. If the bosses aren’t on board, then everything’s going to fall apart.

#2. The benefits of a well-run safety recognition program.

A. You’ll have a reduction in injuries.

B. Increased productivity.

C. Improved morale.

D. A cost savings. The programs are typically inexpensive to maintain and they lead to fewer costs related to accidents.

E. Trend tracking. The data you collect about safety and hazards could be helpful for other parts of the company. It’s an added benefit.

#3. Creating the program.

A. Set of reasonable goal. An example, maybe reduce the injuries in the workplace by 25%, and/or increase the use of PPE—the personal protective equipment.

B. Choose the types of recognition. Some employees just are not motivated by certain recognition. Money often talks, or performance reviews. You can factor safety into employee evaluations to increase accountability. Or time off. A good safety report could equal a few hours or, a day or two off work.

Well, let’s keep going with creating a program.

C. You could propose the program to management. You’ll need to demonstrate that the program will improve safety and save money.

D. Implement the program. Conduct training classes.

E. Maintain the program. Once you start, it won’t run itself. You have to continuously evaluate and adjust it, adjusting for facility changes, new equipment that has come in. Make adjustments if employees begin gaming the system, and they will try to figure out a way to do it.

Also, set new goals when they’re needed and make small adjustments to keep everybody on their toes and engaged.

Well, there you have it. It’s a big project. Do a lot of planning, and do it right the first time because a well-run safety recognition program for employees will save money and increase safety.

That’s all for this episode. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at


OSHA sharp_logo   OSHA offers a safety recognition program called SHARP.  Info here.



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