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Rewarding safety in your workplace: why and how

By Michael Selinger

You will be aware of your obligation, under health and safety legislation, to provide a safe environment for your workers. You may be less familiar with the importance of recognising and rewarding your workers’ good safety performance.

With most states and territories currently inviting nominations for their 2014 safety awards, now is a great time to focus on this.

At this time of year, the safety awards promoted by the safety regulators are a good reminder of the importance of publicly recognising and rewarding good safety performance in any organisation.

There are a number of benefits to recognising good safety performance, including:

  • it confirms for workers that their commitment to safety is valued and fulfills their fundamental human desire to be appreciated;
  • it improves productivity, as workers are motivated to maintain or improve their good safety work; and
  • it sends an important message to the workforce and to third-party organisations with which your business engages.

4 practical ways to recognise safety in your workplace

Recognising good safety performance involves the timely acknowledgement (formal or informal) of a behaviour or effort that supports your business’s safety goals and values.

Some practical ways to acknowledge safety in the workplace include:

  • training your managers (and other workers) to observe and identify an opportunity to praise a worker for good safety performance on the job;
  • introducing specific safety performance goals as part of a worker’s KPI, with bonus payments if difficult goals are achieved;
  • participating in external safety awards programs; and
  • implementing a formal safety awards program that rewards workers for good safety performance, safety initiatives and safety commitment.

It is important to monitor the effectiveness of any safety performance recognition program you put in place.

This is because the program should aim to maximise its impact on the business as a whole. A program should be clear, fair and applied consistently across all groups within the organisation.

Finally, if you have not already considered entering or nominating your workplace or a worker for a safety award, this is the time to do it.

Upcoming safety awards

  • Comcare: 2014 Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards
  • Maritime: The Seacare Awards
  • National: 2014 National Safety Awards of Excellence
  • New South Wales: SafeWork Awards 2014
  • Queensland: Safe Work Awards
  • South Australia: Safe Work Awards 2014
  • Tasmania: 2014 WorkSafe Awards
  • Victoria: The 2014 VWA Health and Safety Awards
  • Western Australia: Work Safety Awards WA 2014
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