Ten tips to create a positive health and safety culture in your organisation

In an ideal world no-one working for your organisation would be injured or suffer an illness due to work, but accidents do happen.

Statistics from the HSE, LFS, ILO and UK Government illustrate the impact health and safety issues had on business continuity. There are 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, and annually 30.4 million days are lost due to illness and injury in the workplace, costing UK employers £14.1 billion a year.

Health and safety is an important priority for organisations, yet many employees lack a basic knowledge of their organisation’s health and safety policies. A 2015 ‘Health and Safety’ audit carried out by P&MM, part of the Sodexo family, across 52 organisations, suggests that there is a significant gap between workplace policies and procedures, and what staff actually know and do.

Shocking statistics

Participants were asked ‘Do you know where to log a health and safety concern at work?’ Nearly four fifths of participants (79%) said they did not know where to log a health and safety concern.

Perhaps an even greater cause for concern is that when participants were asked ‘Have you ever reported a health and safety concern at work?’ Over three quarters of participants (82%) said they had not. Both of these are shocking statistics.

But it is possible to improve awareness of your health and safety programme and also improve employee engagement in the programme.

Solving the problem

Health and safety should be as much part of your culture as sales, communication and celebrating employee achievements. This way health and safety managers can improve case incident rates, create a zero accident mindset, increase the logging of near miss incidents and encourage pro-active reporting of issues through implementing a health and safety award scheme to recognise your employees’ contributions to workplace safety.

  • There are a number of different ways you can do this, for example you could use any or all of the following techniques to incentivise health and safety reporting:
  • Paper based rewards and presentation materials.
  • A dedicated online portal for manager-led recognition.
  • Peer to peer recognition tools that give colleagues the ability to recognise each other without expensive rewards.

Our top tips for implementing a health and safety reward scheme

1) Understand the problem in your individual organisation

Before you implement a health and safety award scheme you need to take a fresh look at your organisation’s health and safety practices. Start by completing an audit and asking your employees for their feedback on your current practices. You can ask questions, send surveys, and hold forums, to gain a good range of data to identify your problem areas.

2) Align your programme with your objectives

Like any recognition and reward programme the goals of the programme should be aligned to your business goals. This might include improving the reporting of accidents or reducing the lost time injury rate. Also consider not only rewarding people for being safe but perhaps rewarding those who have shown initiative or agreed to lead sessions.

3) Think about who you are incentivising

Before you implement your programme know who you are trying to incentivise and why. Employees for whom health and safety is mandatory and forms part of their job description may need less recognition for actions than colleagues elsewhere in the business who do not have health and safety concerns on their radar.

You should also include sub-contractors as well as employees and avoid any distinction between the two groups as sub-contractors should be just as focused on health and safety as your employees.

4) Encourage healthy competition

Add an element of fun to your award scheme by including gamification and competition for employee learning. Employees can collect points awarded for undertaking training modules successfully that may be traded for vouchers or even time off work, depending on your organisation. Consider using individual and team awards.

5) Choose a platform to educate employees

With a centralised award scheme you can ensure that managers – who are at the forefront of health and safety initiatives – have the tools needed to inspire safe behaviours from their team. At the same time colleagues will have the ability to recognise one another for best practice and proactive thinking.

6) Gain manager buy-in to your programme

Gaining manager buy-in during the initial design stages of your award scheme is vital as they are likely to have to play a major role in improving workplace health and safety.

Having your managers publicly endorsing your programme and recognising employees ensures you inspire employee trust and confidence. Managers and the senior management team play a key role in rewarding employees publically for their efforts, which will inspire other employees.

7) Choose the right communication channel(s) to suit your workforce demographics

It’s imperative to effectively use the communication channels at your disposal to raise awareness of both your health and safety policies and your award scheme.  Think about the demographics of your workforce and how they like to be communicated with, where they are based and how often you will be communicating with them and then put in place an on-going communication plan.

8) Choose the right rewards to give your employees

You should consider the impact the rewards you offer will have on your employees. This means that you will need ot offer different options to to suit different individual demographics and a variety of redemption techniques that will appeal to both office and field based employees alike. These include:

  • Voucher cheques - empower managers to make on-the-spot awards
  • Points-based schemes – enable employees to redeem their points for gift cards, merchandise or prepaid cards.
  • Social recognition – delivered through a peer to peer recognition platform, with associated rewards and presentation certificates or cards if deemed suitable.

9) Record results and re-evaluate goals and targets regularly

The benchmarking you did in step one will help you track improvements later on but make sure you ask your employees the right questions so you can track changes. One effective approach is to ask your employees to respond to a series of statements with a sliding scale of agreement, where 1 is ’disagree’ and 10 is ’completely agree’. Statements might include:

  • I know what my own personal safety responsibilities are.
  • I appreciate the relevance of safety policies.
  • In this organisation, co-workers look out for each other’s safety.
  • People here always work safely – even when unsupervised.
  • I realise I am accountable for the safety of colleagues.
  • I feel able to challenge unsafe behaviour.

10) Learn from others

Technology company Siemens created a ‘Zero Harm’ value that is linked to safety as part of their business strategy. Their recognition programme supports this key value and allows employees to personally recognise their one another for safe working practices.

Recognition is given to those who demonstrate best practice application of health and safety techniques or who think ahead to report any potential issues. Both individuals and teams can be recognised via e-card, instant reward or a podium award. This culminates in an annual awards celebration. Since the launch of the programme, recognition sent has increased by 168%.

Changing employees’ attitudes towards health and safety isn’t a quick fix. But by creating a positive health and safety culture through recognition and reward, it is possible to change attitudes and behaviours and instil a zero accident mindset in all employees.

This article was provided by Sodexo.

Associated Supplier

Read the next article

Give me convenience or give me death!

Sponsored By

Topic Categories

Related Articles

Why you should put wellbeing at the heart of your business

Leaflet: Driving at Work - managing work-related road safety

Sponsored Articles

Editor's Picks

Employers at risk of group risk protection breeches

Why we need to do more to tackle financial vulnerability

Plugging the Brexit brain drain with reward and recognition

Join our community


Sign up for REBA Professional Membership and join our community

Professional Membership benefits include receiving the REBA weekly email alert, gaining access to free research and free opportunities to attend specialist conferences.

Professional Membership is currently complimentary for qualifying reward and benefits practitioners. 

Join REBA today