Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Rewarding Safe Performance

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Rewarding Safe Performance

Article excerpt

In terms of safety performance, Huntsman Chemical Co. 's Norfolk, Va., plant is good, but it's not lucky. It was good enough to go for nearly two years -- 1990 and 1991 -- without a lost-time accident, but it was unlucky enough to have missed reaching that two-year milestone by a day and a half.

In recognition of their safety achievements, the 230 employees for whom safety manager Alan Beale fills out an OSHA 200 form received from their employer a blanket, picnic basket, and car care safety kit, complete with jumper cables, flashlights, and a tire changer.

Like many of his peers, Beale uses safety award programs as a tool for raising employees' awareness of safety and offering them a tangible incentive to perform their jobs in a safe fashion. According to a survey by Incentive Marketing magazine, safety incentives were cited as a factor in 30 percent of the nonsales and motivation incentive programs. Overall, the business community spent $17.25 billion on incentive programs in 1991, according to the publication. Safety directors increasingly emphasize that it is imperative to get worker input into incentive programs while they are still fluid in outline. Worker participation should be sought at the outset and sustained thereafter. Safety directors should target their objectives and convey them clearly to worker participants. Then use positive reinforcement to promote the program and report its results on a regular basis to employees.

Taking Aim at Safety

This year, Huntsman is shooting for no lost-time injuries, and pursuant to that goal, has called for a 20 percent reduction in the incident rate and a 30 percent reduction in the severity rate.

Beale said that in the year ahead, he'll be ordering treats spontaneously, such as free Cokes, an occasional free breakfast, or pizzas for lunch to recognize safety excellence. He estimated the cost of the program, including treats and gifts, at $15,000 this year.

The phrase Beale used to characterize the incentives program is "add-on plus." He maintains that it fits neatly within the company's broader quality and safety programs. The latter includes internal safety audits and a multiplicity of safety disciplines, including crisis management. The eight plants in the company network compete in these audits, which are conducted by the corporate safety director, a visiting plant safety director, and an insurance carrier representative. Beale said the safety program as a whole, including the incentive program, improves the company's ability to obtain workers' comp, fire, and other business insurance.

Points Mount Up

Pickus Construction and Equipment Co., a Chicago-based general contractor with 50 to 300 employees, depending upon the season, runs a catalog promotion. Workers get points toward a catalog purchase for every day they work without a lost-time injury. They receive bonus points if the company meets or exceeds its monthly goals.

Catalog prizes range in worth anywhere from $20 to $1,000. The worker makes the gift selection and sends the points, and the mail order house does the rest.

John Atkinson, senior account executive, construction div., Thilman & Filippini, a risk management insurance brokerage firm based in Chicago, which numbers Pickus Con- struction among its clients, helped design Pickus's incentives program, in consultation with their safety director, Robert Schiller.

Atkinson gave us a sampling of the three tiers of gifts -- from least to most expensive. On the first tier, there are such prizes as irons, small stereos, and watches. On the second, 13-in. color TVs, and furniture. On the third tier, big-screen TVs, VCRs, and exercise equipment. Atkinson said that there was a 45 percent drop in Pickus's workers' comp premiums from the standard premium rate for the construction industry. He added that Pickus is on a one-year, performance-rated status. The decreased rate was in force for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1991, according to Atkinson. …

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