Creating a Successful Safety Incentive Programs


Implementing a Safety Incentive Program can enhance and maintain interest in your safety program and build cooperation among employees. Safety Incentive Programs are especially effective when you want to launch a safety campaign focusing on a specific area of concern.

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Common Elements of Safety Incentive Programs

All Safety Incentive Programs are not alike. But, although each Safety Incentive Program is different, all successful programs have fourteen basic elements:

  1. A specific goal
  2. A specific theme or focus
  3. The support of top management
  4. A process to record performance
  5. A budget
  6. A participant and judge selection process
  7. Specific rules and time limits
  8. Promotion among all employees
  9. A special kickoff
  10. A design that promotes continued interest
  11. A process to communicate performance and/or standings
  12. An announcement of winners
  13. Communication of final standings
  14. Management recognition of employees’ efforts

Designing and Implementing a Safety Incentive Program

To be effective, Safety Incentive Programs must be properly developed, implemented, and maintained. Regardless of the type of program your company implements, there are some basic steps that should be taken when designing and implementing a program. These are:

  • Identify the objective
  • Select participants
  • Establish a theme
  • Select appropriate prizes with increasing value
  • Determine the program’s length
  • Communicate the goal

Identify The Objective

Determine why you want to establish a Safety Incentive Program. For example, you may want to decrease workers’ compensation premiums by reducing the number of worker injuries. On the other hand, increasing productivity by decreasing the number of lost workdays may be your goal. If your company is just beginning to implement a formal safety program, your goal may simply be to reinforce general safety principles.

Select Participants

Ask “Which employees need to participate in the program — or a particular phase of a long-term program — to achieve the objective?”

Establish a Theme

Having a focus reminds participants of the goal you want your employees to achieve.

Select Appropriate Prizes with Increasing Value

Prizes need not be expensive, but they should have meaning. Many companies use items printed with the company’s logo – and sometimes with the slogan of the program. These types of items come in a wide range of prices which allows you to set up a point system. The point system allows winners in one phase to save points toward earning prizes of higher value. Prizes that reinforce the contest theme can be very effective; for example, safety glasses, work shoes, hard hats, etc.

Determine the Program’s Length

The incentive program should be intermittent and should last for a specified period of time. If carrying out a program idea will require a prolonged period, experts recommend you have several contests of short duration under the program heading. This will maintain employee interest and allow managers to stress various safety issues.

Communicate the Goal

The program should be fun, relevant to the work experience of all participating employees, and make recognition for working safely more significant than the value of the prize. The program should convey the enthusiasm of its designers to the people – supervisors, employees – for whom it was designed.

Successful Safety Incentive Program Examples

Following are some examples of successful Safety Incentive Programs some companies have implemented.

Safety Slogans

Programs that focus on employees’ creating safety slogans are extremely popular. They usually do not require employees to have special knowledge about safety. Before launching the program, you should establish selection criteria to guide the judging process, i.e.,  originality, applicability to operations at the work location, most dramatic, most appealing slogan, etc. You should also decide who will serve as judges. These types of programs can run for as short as a month or up to a year.

Most Original

This program runs for a period of two months. You encourage all employees to submit original safety slogans. A panel of judges selects four winners each month. First prize is the choice of item from an incentive catalog (moderate prices). Prizes for runners-up are items from an incentive catalog (lower prices). Management posts the slogans throughout the company and prints them in the company newsletter.

Quarterly Slogan

A slogan contest takes place in August, September, and October of each year. Management asks all employees to submit slogans. The company’s safety committee selects the winning slogan. The employee who submits the winning slogan in any of the three months receives a check for $25. The employee with the best safety slogan for the entire three-month period earns an additional reward of $50.

Each month, the winner’s name and his/her slogan appear on the company’s paychecks or in the company newsletter.

“Do You Know?”

You establish a budget of $6 for each month during which this program will run. At the beginning of each month, you post a safety slogan relevant to workplace conditions or practices on bulletin boards at all work locations. At the end of the month, you put the names of all employees in a box and draw six names from the box.

The Safety Supervisor approaches each of the six in turn and asks him/her what the safety slogan is. If the employee is able to repeat the slogan, he/she receives a silver dollar. If an individual does not know the slogan, management draws another name. The process repeats until the entire $6 is used.

A Variation of “Do You Know?”

You post the slogan of the week on bulletin boards throughout the company. The Safety Supervisor picks five names at random from the company employee list and numbers them in order. Armed with five silver dollars, he/she looks for the first person on the list.

The Safety Supervisor asks the first employee what the slogan of the week is. If the employee can repeat it, he/she receives a dollar. If not, the Safety Supervisor goes on to the second person on the list. The Safety Supervisor continues until, he/she gives the $5 away or all employees have had a chance to participate.

Usually, a period of a few weeks is sufficient to get the employees to read the safety bulletin boards, after which time the contest ends and another takes its place.

Best Slogan

You and your management team encourage all employees to submit safety slogans. A group of judges selects the best one each week.

Prizes for the best slogan change weekly. It might be a baseball cap with company logo, certificates for dinner and a movie, a coffee mug, etc.

After the period designated for the program ends, the judges decide which should receive the grand prize. The winner receives an award of greater monetary value.

Each weekly winning slogan and the person submitting it receive wide publicity throughout the company. In addition to the monetary award, the grand prizewinner wins pizza and pop or donuts and coffee for his/her department.

Children’s Safety Slogans

For six weeks, you and your management team encourage your employees’ children (up to age 12) to submit safety slogans. A panel of judges picks the winners each week — with a prize of $20 for first place, $10 for second place, and $5 for third place. At the end of the contest, there is a grand prizewinner for the best overall slogan with a $25 award. Photographs of the winning children and their slogans appear on company bulletin boards or in the company newsletter.

Safety Record

Some companies have used programs to focus on their safety record. Here are some examples:

1,000 Safe Days

In this program, the winner is any department that is able to operate 1,000 days without a lost-time accident Every employee in the department receives a quality gift suitably inscribed with the achievement of the department. The gift can be a ball point pen, a coffee mug, a baseball cap, or a tee shirt. The presentation is made with appropriate ceremony, pictures, and publicity.

Stock Issue

Each employees receives a “share of stock” with a maximum value of $7. If the company operates six months without a lost-time accident or doctor case, the share is redeemable for $7.

Each doctor case causes the share to drop $10, and each lost-time case causes the value of the share to drop $2.50.

The injured employee loses $2.50 of his/her share for a minor accident and the entire share for a lost-time case.

Hours Worked

For each period of 50,000 hours the company goes without a lost-time accident, the company buys and displays a prize worth about $10. After six such prizes have been bought and displayed, the company calls a meeting of all employees. At this meeting, employees have a chance to participate in a general drawing for the prize.

If a lost-time accident interrupts the contest before the six prizes have been bought and displayed, employees in the department where the accident occurred are ineligible, and all other departments are eligible for the drawing.

Safe Employees

This program, run at the beginning of each month, is for employees who had no accidents during the preceding month. The names of these employees go into a hat. A different safety slogan is posted in all work locations each month. At the end of the month, a member of management draws a name from the hat. A member of management telephones the employee’s residence. If the person answering the telephone is able to quote the slogan, he/she wins a prize.

No Accident – No Absenteeism

Once a month, place stubs with the time card numbers or names of all employees in a box. The contest winner from the previous month draws one stub from the box before the monthly safety meeting.

Management checks the record of the employee for.

  • No accidents during past month.
  • No absenteeism during past month.

Management draws names until one employee meets these two criteria. This person receives a special prize. The name of the winner is announced at a Safety Committee Meeting or general employee meeting and appears on bulletin boards where employees congregate. This contest can be company-wide or limited to a specific department.

Safety Quizzes

Safety quizzes – focused on topics related to the program’s objective – can be an effective way to stimulate employees to learn more about how to work safely. Here are some examples of programs that have been found effective:

Safety Know How

This program works in organizations that publish a bulletin dealing entirely with the subject of safety. The schedule can be monthly, bimonthly, quarterly. A quiz program is set up to make sure employees read the bulletin.

The names of all employees go into a box and each month (every other month, quarter) the Safety Supervisor (or other person) draws a name. The Supervisor approaches this person and asks the employee several questions concerning the most recent issue of the bulletin. If the employee can answer the questions, he/she receives a prize.

There are two important considerations: (1) the material should not be too technical since it must appeal to a wide range of employees. Suitable topics might be good housekeeping or fire prevention. (2) The contest should take place within one week of distribution of the newsletter.

Lottery Winner

Management posts a safety slogan on all bulletin boards each day. Sometime during the day, the Safety Supervisor approaches an employee whose name has been drawn.

The Safety Supervisor asks the employee to quote the safety slogan of the day. If the employee can do this, he/she receives a lottery ticket. If not, the Safety Supervisor adds the ticket to the award the following day, increasing its value. When someone is able to quote the safety slogan accurately, that person receives the entire award. The next day the contest starts again with a new lottery ticket.

Telephone Tag

Interested employees submit their names and home telephone numbers for a special drawing. Each month, a member of management draws one name out of a box and calls the employee’s home. If the person who answers the telephone is able to quote the safety slogan for the month, he or she receives a gift certificate. If not, the gift certificate increases for the next month.

Miscellaneous and Combination Contests

  • Cash and Grocery:
    • Only employees in departments that had no lost-time accidents during the preceding month are eligible for this contest. In this contest a combination of cash and groceries goes to one employee each month based on the ability to recall a safety slogan displayed where employees congregate.
    • The names of eligible employees go into a box. Management draws the winning name at the designated time each month. The winner gets $10.
    • Management then makes a telephone call to the winner’s home. If anyone there is able to repeat the current safety slogan, that person receives a $25 certificate towards a grocery order from a local store.
  • Safety Suggestion:
    • Management places suggestion boxes throughout the workplace. Employees write safety suggestions and place them in a suggestion box. The suggestions can be about unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, and health hazards. The Safety Committee reviews the submissions at each monthly meeting and selects the best suggestion each month by vote.
    • Recognition takes the form of posting the winner’s name and his/her suggestion on bulletin boards along with the action management or the Safety Committee will take as a result of the suggestion.
  • What’s Wrong with This Picture?
    • The company publishes a cartoon showing many types of hazards in its monthly newspaper or magazine. The company invites all employees to submit a list of all the hazards they can find. The employee who submits the longest correct list wins gift certificates that he/she can use for free lunches for one week.
  • Good Housekeeping:
    • Once a month, a manager and one individual from the Safety Committee inspect various work locations. A different committee person participates each month. The manager and the member of the Safety Committee inspect and score the locations individually, not as a group. Each inspector turns his/her scoring in to a designated individual who averages the scoring for each work location.
    • The person doing the scoring uses a sheet listing the ten items to be checked with the department numbers across the top of the sheet. Each department can rate up to ten points on each of the ten items, making a possible total of 100 points.
    • By comparing the current score with the previous month’s score, this person decides which work location has made the most improvement. The monthly total scores appear, in the order of rating, on bulletin boards where employees congregate.
    • The most improved location becomes the winner of the good housekeeping award for the month. The winning location receives a free lunch or other suitable prize.

For more information or assistance in implementing a Safety Incentive Program, contact us at 888-346-3461, Ext. 6402, complete and return the Request for Safety Management Services Consultation form.

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