Creating a Safety Culture:  Part III
Kevin Gern 2059

Creating a Safety Culture: Part III

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Welcome to the third and final part of Creating a Safety Culture! By this point, you have earned hearty congratulations for your dedication to safety and to improve your business’s mindset towards creating a safe work environment. After reading the first two parts of this series, you were tasked with starting safety-related conversations with managers and employees alike. You also should be working towards a plan that increases the effort and focuses on improving safety across all aspects of your business.  Now, for some of your final steps, it’s time to show employees your commitment as well as encourage and reward them as they become more safety-focused.   

Enforcing Safety with a Carrot vs. Stick   

We’ve all seen examples of negative enforcement of safety - we will call this The Stick. Think of things like suspension, penalties, probationary periods, or even termination. While sometimes these negative enforcements or punishments are necessary depending on the violation and situation, there are a variety of positive “enforcements” and rewards that you can use – we’ll call this The Carrot – to influence and promote safety culture.  Below are a few examples of how this can be achieved throughout your facilities.   

Random Safety Awards 

Challenge your supervisors or managers to watch for someone doing something safe or correcting an unsafe situation. This could be an employee that utilizes Lock Out Tag Out procedures, or an employee that fixes a rug that got folded over, creating a trip hazard.  If you catch an employee in the act of “making safety a priority,” reward them for it! This can be done immediately, in the following days in a quick meeting, or at the next team/staff meeting. The key is to not forget to reward the employee for their actions. The rewards could be as simple as a company certificate for safety or even a poster board with employee names, dates, and a brief description of their reason for the award. Back this up with a $10 or $20 gift card and it really starts to drive buy-in from other employees.  The most important part of this tactic is to ensure other employees hear and see the recognition when someone is awarded for safety. 

Safety Rewards Programs 

Maybe your business already has a focus on safety and you’re ready to continue to drive your employees while you polish your safety program. Consider starting an incentive program that allows employees to earn points or corporate dollars in which they can be redeemed for shirts, jackets, or other prizes that are desired by the employees. Not sure what would encourage your team to take safety above and beyond? Survey them and find out what would really make them excited, then include that in as an incentive (within reason of course). 

Safety Goals and Bonus 

Another way to encourage a group safety mentality is to make safety goals a part of every employee’s bonus. This goal is typically based on the company’s overall safety or a specific location’s safety. When a company takes this approach, it pushes all employees to continuously strive for zero incidents by utilizing all forms of safety in their everyday activities. It also adds positive peer pressure to do the right thing as to not lose the bonus for everyone.  

No matter what the “carrot” is, make sure the program you put in place is compliant with what OSHA allows. In no way should your safety incentive program deter or discourage an employee from reporting a workplace injury or illness. Refer to OSHA section 1904.35 found at to ensure your program is compliant.  

Remember, the most challenging part of creating a safety culture in your rental business is getting your safety program off the ground. From that point forward, it is all about reinforcing good safety practices with your employees, continued education for everyone, and striving to exceed your next safety goal. 

Thank you for tuning in and let’s all do our part to make safety a priority! 

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern
Other posts by Kevin Gern

Kevin is the Director of Safety at American Rental Association. He has a background in emergency services, pharmaceutical, and biotech in addition to safety. His experience and knowledge helps rental stores make decisions on safe rental processes, rental equipment safety, and event site protection. Kevin works remotely from his home in Hershey, PA, the sweetest place on earth and home of the Hershey Bar.

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