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How safety rewards can help and hinder: a case study

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Original languageEnglish
JournalProfessional Safety
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Abstract

There is no clear consensus within construction safety literature as to whether companies that use safety rewards are safer than those that do not. Through an ethnographic approach, a reward systems used on a large construction project was investigated. The researcher utilised participant observation as a main research tool within the H&S department attending the project between one and three times a week for three years. Data was collected through site walk-arounds, attending meetings, informal discussions and the project safety survey results. The results suggested that safety rewards are worth incorporating in wider safety management systems, as the majority of workers believed they encouraged them to act in a safer manner, especially when the individual award was of financial worth. There should be clear protocol and criteria for safety acts that are worthy of winning an award for the rewards program itself to be reputable. Group awards that reward low or no incidents within a certain period of time create risks of under-reporting, so it is recommended other incentive options should be explored. There should also be a clear protocol on restrictions and limitations for workgroups with high turnovers.

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