Some employers try to create a safe workplace by rewarding employees when there are no work-related injuries. This is a mistake. While you certainly want to motivate employees to follow your safety procedures, you do not want to incentivize employees to hide injuries and accidents—or to refrain from filing a claim. Encouraging “no injuries” tells employees that they should downplay their injuries or keep them quiet. It may be well-meaning, but it’s still a form of pressure that exposes you to liability and increases the chances of repeated injuries. And it doesn’t make you safer.
There’s a simpler and safer way to motivate your employees to take safety seriously: keep the topic front and center. If you talk a lot about safety, you’ll have a safer workplace. You likely do this for customer service and performance standards, so why not do the same with your workplace safety program? Here are a few tools you can use to maintain compliance and remind your employees of the importance of a safe workplace:
Publish a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Each edition could have an article on a specific safety or wellness topic, a fun quiz (with the chance to win prizes), a reminder of important company policies, protocols and emergency contacts.
Provide employees with a form on which they can document and report safety concerns they’ve noticed. This promotes employee involvement in proactive safety assessments of the workplace. For this practice to work, employees need to feel comfortable bringing concerns to your attention and confident that you’ll address them.
Offer a monthly 10-15 minute training on a matter of safety or wellness. And make them fun. You could have trainings on anything from avoiding sleep deprivation to the health costs of stress. Promote employee involvement by asking various employees to facilitate them.
Talk to your workers’ compensation carrier. You can get good tips, training, and ideas from them, and you may be able to get write-offs. Like you, they want to keep costs down, so they’ll likely appreciate your efforts to make safety a priority and do what they can to help.
These are tools that any organization can use, but remember that some industries have special trainings required by OSHA. In any case, remember that your goal should be to have a safe workplace, not to maintain a workplace with absolutely no recorded accidents or injuries. Keep safety and wellness on the minds of your employees, and you’ll go a long way toward making your workplace as safe as possible.