Whats Wrong with Safety Incentive Schemes

Safety Incentive Schemes

For the 20 years I was in the mining industry we had a variety of safety incentives. There were stubby coolers, belt buckles, caps, jackets, sports bags and so on. Awards were given for various periods without a lost time accident, often a more valuable prize was given for greater periods without a lost time accident.

At one job I gave out stickers for 1,2,3, years etc without a lost time accident. Between ordering different stickers for each year, keeping track of who was due for a sticker, placating those who could not get a sticker because they had had an accident and supplying extra stickers for peoples collections it sucked up a lot of time

One of the things we found was OHS people using the vagaries of the lost time accident classification system to not count compensable injuries as lost time. We also found the employees came to expect the award as just another perk of employment that had no relationship to safety. There were occasions when employees were injured due to management failures and they argued they should still get the award.

Inter-mine safety competitions saw amazingly innovative ways of not counting accidents and generally fudging the figures.

These things are also quite painful to administer. The question was also raised about why people should need / deserve an award for working safely. The costs were substantial and some people argued the money could be better spent stopping personal damage occurrences. At the end of the day I believe safety incentives are a distraction and have no place in a safety program. There is plenty of literature to support this view.

Public recognition in front of peers for a job well done is probably the best form of incentive.

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