The hands-on nature of manufacturing and transportation means accidents sometimes happen. In fact, they happen often enough that companies lose a combined $1 billion per week to accidents and subsequent costs, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Luckily, this enormous blow to American industry is curable, and many companies have seen progress as they heighten their efforts with safety incentive programs.
June is the National Safety Council’s (NSC) National Safety Month, which means your friends at E Group, along with our partners at WorkStride, have teamed up to share the latest trends and tips on workplace safety in manufacturing and transportation. To kick off National Safety Month 2017, we published an eBook titled: “An Introduction to Incentivizing Workplace Safety”. It outlines the essential steps to starting a safety incentive program, the difference between lagging and leading safety indicators, and much more. The ultimate goal is to decrease workplace injuries and encourage safety once and for all.
Below we’ve gathered a few key statistics, OSHA guidelines, and general tips for building a successful safety incentive program in the manufacturing and transportation industries. This brief guide to building a successful safety incentive program is just the start. For a more in-depth look, our eBook has a wealth of information and essential steps to starting a safety incentive program for manufacturing, transportation, and other safety-focused industries.
National Safety Month: Why It Matters
Every June, the National Safety Council (NSC) celebrates National Safety Month in order to educate the country about workplace safety. In fields like manufacturing and transportation, the importance of safety is impossible to overstate. Workplace safety in manufacturing and transportation is an omnipresent concern -- the success of your company and livelihood of your workers rely on it. National Safety Month is the perfect time to take a step back from your current program, review how it’s working, and think about improvements to help decrease workplace injuries and encourage safety going forward.
In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2.8 million workplace injuries, and more than half of those caused time away from work. In manufacturing specifically, the average injury rate is higher than the national average.
In OSHA’s “Warehouse Safety Series” guide, they share a story about a New Jersey warehouse where workers struggled with frequent back injuries. The company decided to embrace OSHA’s safety guidelines and implement safety tactics based on those guidelines, which eventually resulted in zero injuries and heightened resolve:
“...company sources reported that both the morale and productivity of the company’s 50 warehouse employees had subsequently increased.”
In transportation, workplace injuries are less common than in similar fields, but they’re typically more serious and result in more days missed from work. Many of these injuries happen around construction zones, where OSHA also stresses strict safety guidelines. Check out these statistics:
“Motorists can expect to encounter an active work zone 1 out of every 100 miles driven on the nation’s highway system. More than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of crashes in work zones.”
Given the need to decrease workplace injuries and encourage safety in these industries, many companies turn to safety incentive programs, but those programs don’t always align with OSHA’s standards:
“Sometimes workers need a little help when it comes to following OSHA regulations and avoiding accidents. Over time, safety incentive programs started to sprout up, rewarding workers for safe behavior. Unfortunately, programs like these sometimes focus on the wrong factors, which causes issues with OSHA regulations.” -- “An Introduction to Incentivizing Workplace Safety”
According to OSHA, building a successful safety incentive program can only happen when companies are proactive -- not reactive -- in their approaches. This means understanding the difference between lagging and leading safety indicators, and committing your company to lead with safety.
Know the Difference: Lagging and Leading Safety Indicators
OSHA has a history of disapproval for safety incentive programs because they often take a reactive approach, thus discouraging honest reporting. This happens when companies focus on lagging indicators, which are reports and events that get reviewed after they happen.
Common lagging indicators include incident reports and workers’ compensation reports. Lagging indicator programs often reward teams when they report zero injuries in a given time frame, which might help avoid future accidents, but isn’t proactive enough to stop the incident from happening in the first place. Even more, these programs discourage employees from reporting their injuries in hopes they will be rewarded, or worse, in fear they might be punished:
“As these programs also typically reward groups of people, social pressure discourages workers from reporting safety concerns. For example, if an employee gets hurt on day 49 of a 50-day accident free initiative, the employee might not report the incident in order to appease his or her peers.” -- “An Introduction to Incentivizing Workplace Safety”
On the other hand, leading safety indicators are proactive in nature, as they encourage workers to report potential hazards ahead of time. Similar to the incentive programs that we at E Group build with WorkStride, leading with safety means you reward positive actions before incidents even occur, rather than reactively rewarding a lack of incidents after the fact.
It’s vital to understand the differences between lagging and leading safety indicators as you review and improve your safety incentive program. You can also work with an engagement agency like E Group to take a deep dive into your current safety program and develop improvements.
This National Safety Month, make a pledge to lead with safety and create a safer and more productive work environment for everyone.