It Pays To Promote Safety In The Workplace
If you have any employees, even just one, then chances are, you have to carry Worker's Compensation insurance. If you carry Worker's Comp., you have to pay insurance premiums. The amount you have to pay depends on what your Experience Factor is. The E.F. is a multiplier against the premium. Every employer starts out with an E.F. of 1.0. If you don't have any claims (i.e. no accidents in the workplace), then eventually, the E.F. goes down, thereby reducing your insurance premiums. If you have any claims (i.e. accidents in the workplace), then the E.F. goes up, and so do your premiums.
So it makes good sense, dollars and cents, to do what you can to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents. As Benjamin Franklin said. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” If you can save money on your W. C. insurance, then it's the same as earning it. Of course, you begin by providing a safe working environment for your employees. You supply the proper safety equipment for protection. You make sure that all employee-operated machinery is in good working order. Warning signs are prominently displayed.
However, even with taking all of these precautions, accidents can and will happen. Because somebody, somewhere, at some time, without thinking, is going to get careless and do something dangerous. You can always reprimand an employee for doing something the wrong way. The problem is, they've already made the mistake. And the harm is done (literally). The key to reducing the number of work-related accidents is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
In order for your employees to work safely, they must think about safety. Now the question is, how do you control what a person thinks? A Safety Awareness Program may be just the ticket to lowering the number of injuries on the job. Here are some pointers:
- Begin by appealing to the worker's own desire to work safely. A person's own built-in sense of self-preservation is the best tool to use for promoting safety. Encourage them to analyze each situation for the best, most safe, way to go about it.
- If you can get your people to concentrate on safety for a period of time, it will become second nature. So announce a “Safety Awareness Month.”
- Come up with a theme or slogan, and enhance it with a graphical image that will be a symbol of the program. Use continuity to drive home the message.
- Reinforce the message with promotional items given out for milestones achieved. Handy items such as a carton knife, a pen, or a key tag are good choices.
- Make it an event. Put up posters and banners carrying the safety theme. Decorate doorways and entrances with alternating yellow and black crepe paper. Distribute a company memo announcing the special month.
- Set a goal. “No accidents this month.” Build enthusiasm and excitement by displaying a daily tally.
- Create a “team spirit.” Pass out buttons imprinted with the safety theme for every employee (even management) to wear on their uniform or work clothing. Consider imprinted T-shirts or sports jerseys for a real “team” effect.
- Use competition. If you have multiple locations or work shifts, pit them against each other. Whichever team has the lowest number of claims during the awareness month, wins! Recognition, that is. Award the winning side with T-shirts or jackets imprinted with the victory message. Example: “Ashland Division Knows Safety!” But remember, there are no losers, so everyone should get some kind of reward.
- Everybody wins. No matter what the final score is, congratulate everyone for their efforts to reduce accidents and promote safety. If you've been successful in having no accidents for the month, then challenge your workers to continue the streak. If you can do it for one month, why not do it every month? If you've at least seen a reduction in the number of accidents, commend them and challenge them to do better. Set a record, then break it.
- Keep the momentum going. Once you've developed a full head of steam in the “motivational locomotive”, it takes only a minimal amount of additional fuel to keep it going at full force. Make Safety Awareness an on-going program. Take advantage of the emotional energy generated by the Safety Awareness Program by redirecting the attention of your employees to other problem areas within the company. Is parking a problem? Start a Carpooling Drive. Need a boost in Research & Development? Launch an Employee Brainstorming and Suggestion Drive.
- Other Benefits. Research has shown that, in addition to lowering the number of on-the-job accidents, a Safety Awareness Program can simultaneously improve performance and productivity. Employee morale goes up. Absenteeism goes down. Employee turnover is reduced. The benefits of this program can be substantial.
Accidents can cost your company money, lost time, and production. A Safety Awareness Program may require a financial investment, but the payoff can far exceed the initial cost.
Accidents cost. Safety pays. And that makes a Safety Awareness Program a great promotional idea.