OSEA Safety Blog

Safety Incentive Programs

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 Murray Tate

Safety Incentive Programs

Safety Incentive Programs (SIPs) seem like a good idea. Reward safe behavior – get improved safety performance. However, there is a difference between safe behavior and safety results. Per an OSHA 2012 memorandum concerning “Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices,” OSHA states their opinion that an SIP can actually encourage employees to NOT report accidents or injuries in order to secure a prize.

“Such programs might be well-intentioned efforts by employers to encourage their workers to use safe practices. However, there are better ways to encourage safe work practices, such as incentives that promote worker participation in safety-related activities, such as identifying hazards or participating in investigations of injuries, incidents or "near misses" (www.osha.gov/as/opa/whistleblowermemo.html, OSHA, 2012).

Employee safety behaviors can be rewarded by prizes for most “near miss reports” filed, hazards found and reported, serving on safety committees, suggesting new and needed safety training, or anything that involves activities that constitute good safety behavior. But programs that try to reward results, such as no injuries, could easily be interpreted as rewarding employees to report zero injuries even if they need to hide an injury to do so. It’s the old “unintended consequences” issue that occurs in lots of areas.

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