Most on-the-job accidents occur in “safe” workplaces. Why? Employee error. What can you do about it? Invest in a comprehensive employee safety motivation program that will reduce injuries in your workplace — increase productivity — and save you money. Some workplace injuries are due to lack of appropriate safety equipment or unsafe processes and procedures — problems that workplace safety laws can help correct. However, the most pervasive cause of these injuries is employee error (taking unneeded chances without thinking about them). For example, a worker might suffer a back injury despite having been trained in back safety, having a safety belt available, and knowing that there’s a risk.
Your employees might fail to minimize their workplace risks for a number of reasons, either related to or independent of the job. Job-related excuses for a back injury might include:
- “I’ve picked up bigger boxes than this before without hurting myself.”
- “Back belts are for sissies.”
- “I’m too busy to stop and get a belt.”
In these cases, the employee at least thought about possible danger in lifting and alternatives. Some non-job-related reasons for ignoring safety procedures might be:
- “I’m mad at my spouse. My kids are a pain.”
- “How am I going to get my car fixed? Where will the money come from?”
- “What should I wear tonight? Do the Joneses like asparagus?”
- “I sure need a cigarette. When’s my break?”
The solution to this cavalier attitude toward safety is to develop an employee motivation program. The first step in an effective safety motivation program is marketing. You must instill the value of safety, communicate a commitment to safety, and motivate supervisors and employees to think and act safely. Rather than emphasizing management and control of responses to injury or illness, work toward preventing them and promoting safety. These efforts could pay big dividends — and lower your insurance premium.
Support the motivation program by committing to needed costs, promotions, and the total employee-motivation effort. Although employee motivation programs have been shown to provide a terrific savings-to-cost ratio, they do involve costs. If you save $25,000 on Workers Compensation, you won’t automatically get some of this money to spend on safety. However, the rate of return on an effective safety program can be $4 to $10 for every dollar invested.
Promote and maintain safety awareness by setting goals, rewarding success, and acknowledging failures. The employee motivation job isn’t complete till the paperwork is finished. Training must include program evaluation and trainee feedback for both supervisors and employees. Base your motivation program on awards, contests, premiums, and so forth. It’s essential to publicize such rewards as lottery tickets, selected gifts, savings bonds, and cash. However, no rewards will work without the basic structure of a workplace safety program.