June was National Safety Month. Did you take full advantage by focusing employee attention on safe work practices? Here are some helpful tips for planning Safety Month activities for next year from the National Safety Council (NSC):
- Download materials from the National Safety Council and distribute to employees
- Create newsletters or blog posts
- Hold a safety trivia contest with weekly prizes
- Make an activity out of identifying hazards where you work and live
- Throw a safety fair, lunch 'n learn or celebratory luncheon
- Encourage others to take the SafeAtWork pledge at org/workpledge
- Share posts on your social media channels using #NSM
- Provide safety training — watch for special NSM discounts or free opportunities
- Use National Safety Month as the perfect opportunity to launch a comprehensive safety recognition / rewards program
According to NSC studies, workplace accidents fall into 3 categories:
- Contact with machinery or equipment
- Slips and falls
Understanding the cause of accidents is the first step to putting practices and procedures in place to avoid or minimize risk. A properly designed Safety Program is an excellent way to focus attention. Employees pay attention to what is measured. When employees are recognized and rewarded for safe practices, those practices eventually become habits.
Designing an effective Safety Program is not for amateurs! Contract with an experienced professional to make sure you’re covering all bases (including current OSHA regulations) and avoiding unintended consequences. Here are some best practices:
- Get support from the top. Management must “walk the talk”.
- Program structure is important. An incentive professional can walk you through the steps.
- Set goals for the group but reward only for the individual performance. Get input from employee representatives who can provide useful information on both the goals as well as the types of rewards that are meaningful.
- Positive Reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement. Reinforce positive changes in behavior and avoid take-aways that are viewed as punishment.
- Include all the divisions of the company that can impact change.
- Have top management deliver recognition to individuals and teams. Often the recognition is as important as the reward itself.
- Start with baseline data and measure your progress. This will allow you to determine the value and return on your investment in these programs.
- Stay the course. It takes time to change the culture of a company and for employees to know that you are serious about continuing these programs (that’s another reason why leadership participation is critical).
- Tangible rewards are proven to be more effective than cash. While it is important to involve employees in the program design, do not ask them what type of awards they want to receive. They will all say cash but they will work smarter and safer for tangible / memorable awards.
- Take full advantage of the latest technology to ensure ease of participation by your employees.
- Brand your program. Personalize your program to reflect company values and reinforce marketing messages.
- Communicate throughout the program, not just at the initial launch. Regular communication will keep interest in the program and regular progress updates will encourage continued participation.