Workplace Strategic Safety Incentives

Question 1: What is the overall purpose of safety incentives?
The overall purpose of safety incentives is to help organizations supplement a solid safety process. This means that safety incentives should and must not replace the laid down organizational safety process. In particular, safety incentives help change workers’ safety related behavior at the workplace, improve their safety awareness and helps reduce recordable injuries.

Question 2: Distinguish between the terms: incentive, reward and recognitions
Incentive: An incentive is an award, either tangible or intangible, given to someone with the purpose of encouraging or influencing them to act in a way they would otherwise not done. There is always an if/then clause to the concept of an incentive.
Reward: A tangible item with its own intrinsic value given either to influence someone’s behavior in a specific direction or after the person has acted in a certain way even if they were not aware of the reward before they demonstrated the desired behavior.
Recognition: A symbolic way of showing appreciation for some accomplishment. Common forms of recognition include trophies, plaques and letters of commendation

In short, incentives differ from rewards in that an incentive can be either tangible or intangible while rewards are always given in the form of tangible items of value. A reward can also be given when the recipient was not previously aware of it before they acted in the desired manner. A recognition is different from a reward in that, while both come in the form of tangible items, the worth of a recognition is not in the intrinsic value of the item but its symbolic value.

Question 3: How can linking incentives to traditional, lagging indicators be problematic?
Linking incentives to traditional, lagging indicators can provide a motive to employees not to report injuries, irrespective of whether this was or was not the intended outcome. The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), while recognizing that such an approach could be a genuine intention by an employer to encourage employers to follow safety precautions carefully, insists there are better more effective ways of accomplishing the goal.

Question 4: Employee engagement is generally accepted as a driver and key performance indicator (KPI) of safety. How can leading metrics be linked to an incentive program to improve employee engagement?
There are two kinds of safety incentive metrics (measures) used to evaluate the effectiveness of safety programs. Both kinds of metrics are behavioral and are designed to identify whether employees can and if they are actually following safety procedures.
1. Primary Metrics
Primary metrics are used to evaluate if employees are doing their work procedures in compliance to safety guidelines. Primary measures are almost always mandatory and mostly used in determining the safety behavior of working employees and not management.
Example: The Percent Safe measure directly determined from observational data of employee behavior e.g. whether or not power switches are turned off before repairs are carried out.
2. Secondary Metrics
Secondary metrics are used evaluate the kind and effectiveness of support provided for ensuring safety in the workplace. These metrics are usually more effective in evaluating management actions and they tend to be voluntary rather than mandatory.
Example: Secondary metrics for evaluating employee engagement include completing hazard analysis on the job and evaluating incident reports as well as providing resources necessary to guarantee workplace safety.

Question 5: Discuss two ways a properly designed, implemented and managed safety incentive program can improve safety performance.
1. By making workers feel part of the process from the start
Many incentive programs fail because workers who are responsible for the day-to-day nitty-gritty of implementing safety procedures feel left out of the process. When the program feels like something imposed by management without consideration of the feelings and opinions of the workers, it is doomed to fail. As discussed, Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, especially on the motivation continuum; places an implicit high premium on the worker’s input and involvement. This can be deduced from factors such as recognition, sense of achievement, responsibility etc.
2. Risks are identified early and addressed proactively
Central to the concept of reinforcing strategic safety through incentives are the ideas of measurement, feedback and integration. By following such a strategy, risks can be identified early enough and addressed proactively. This serves to reduce the possibility of accidents and/or injuries.

Question 6: Case 3 – Executing Leading Safety Indicators in the Petroleum Industry
i. What are the most remarkable characteristics of the approach on measurement?
The five key points developed by ExxonMobil’s Safety Thought Leader Jack Toellner offer remarkable insight on the process of implementing safety metrics in a highly challenging environment. The most impressive of his innovative guidelines are Key Point #4 which points out that safety metrics should not be competitive in that the outcome is far more important than the numbers, and Key Point #5 which states that safety metrics should not be complex.

ii. Why do you think they are most remarkable?
By taking out the element of competitiveness from implementation of safety metrics in the workplace, Toellner ensured that management and the workers themselves could focus on what was most important: ensuring that the workplace was safe for everyone. Toellner also deliberately avoided introducing any element of complexity in executing his 5 key safety indicators. This was essentials in an environment where the workers were relatively inexperienced in a potentially highly hazardous jobsite. The results, reportedly amounting to a combined 2 million work hours on the Gulf of Mexico ExxonMobil oil platform with only 1 recorded injury incident, is extraordinarily remarkable.

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