Reinforcing Workplace Safety

Employers intuitively understand the consequences of an unsafe workplace. Our customers tell us there’s a lot at stake: employee injury or fatality, decreased productivity, disappointed customers, loss of profits, and loss of business top a long list.

When accidents happen, management and corporate leadership are prompted to appraise their effectiveness in promoting workplace safety.Training programs are often mandatory in many industries, such as transportation, construction, and manufacturing. However, what is intuitively important to an employer doesn’t necessarily carry the same weight with employees.Consequently, the actions of employees don’t always align with a company’s goals and initiatives.

From a safety perspective, employees don’t intend to put themselves or others in harm’s way, but pressure to meet deadlines, service levels, and productivity goals often can result in overlooked safety protocols. So how do you go beyond training to foster a culture of safety? Based on results reported by our clients, rewarding and recognizing employees for safe work behavior significantly contributes to a more safety-conscious workforce, which reduces on-the-job accidents and injury.

More importantly, recognition helps reinforce training, which establishes a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job, according to OSHA.

Driving Better Results
We have worked with many Fortune 1000 companies to design and implement employee reward and recognition programs for workplace safety. The programs we design strengthen and enhance the results of our customers’ safety initiatives through positive reinforcement. A complementary extension of our customers’ existing safety programs and initiatives, our new Workplace Safety Recognition Program recognizes employees for being more aware and proactive in their attention to safety guidelines.

The programs range from mileage-based safe driving to injury prevention and are executed via a Webbased, turnkey, points-based or peer-to-peer nomination reward system.

By implementing the program, customers such as WIKA Instrument Corporation are realizing significant return on their investment, as well as improved employee adherence to safety guidelines. WIKA, which manufactures pressure and temperature instrumentation, strives for continuous improvement in every aspect of its business, especially workplace safety.

WIKA previously was at the industry average for workplace injuries. Annual costs associated with employee injuries were costing the company roughly $1.35 per $100 of payroll, ultimately hurting the company’s bottom line. WIKA chose to work with us because it could streamline its employee recognition programs online and establish rewards for employees who comply with OSHA’s safety standards for manufacturing groups. Two programs tailored to WIKA’s needs, a points-based Employee Safety Recognition Program and a new Service Awards Program. gave it the ability to foster continuous workplace safety improvement and recognize employees’ accomplishments.

As a result, WIKA reduced its recordable injury frequency to just 1.4 percent, compared to the OSHA manufacturing groups’ average of 3.3 percent.Using rewards for employees who comply with OSHA’s safety standards,worker’s compensation costs decreased from $1.35 per $100 in 2005 to 10 cents per $100 in 2007. WIKA employees now receive their gifts in a timely fashion, view their points history on the Web, and use a customized gift catalog Web site to select their gifts. WIKA’s human resources department saves hours sorting through papers. The points-based program gives WIKA employees a fun, interactive experience, which drives employees to work toward gifts of a greater point value.At the same time, it encourages their co-workers, which creates a more positive workplace environment.

Calculating ROI
The right workplace safety recognition program provides customers with an end-to-end solution that encompasses program design, implementation, and results measurement. It eliminates the guesswork, inconsistencies, and inefficiencies out of customers’ recognition programs by seamlessly integrating within their systems and databases, minimizing the burden of day-to-day safety recognition management so executives and HR departments can focus on their core competencies: creating a more productive and profitable organization.

When it comes to spending on increased safety, the ROI is pretty distinct; preventing permanent injury and undue harm is a significant benefit. Investing in a recognition program that serves to reinforce safety training and fosters a self-motivated safety culture is a wise decision. Companies will realize huge dividends by reducing downtime, increasing equipment operating time, decreasing worker’s compensation costs and legal fees, and increasing service levels, customer satisfaction, and client retention.

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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