Businesses set up Safety Incentive Programs as part of their workplace health, safety, and management system.

This program gives rewards to employees who accomplish specific goals related to workplace safety. They may get prizes like TVs, computers, and I saw jet-skis, trucks, and Jeeps. Employees can also have a pizza party if there are no reported accidents.

And since 2016, there has been some back and forth on what constitutes a compliant safety incentive program. In this episode, I share the timeline history and what you need to do to make sure your safety incentives won’t get you in trouble.


Just because the management creates a recognition or reward system, we never want to incentivize not reporting accidents or injuries during work.

According to Dr. Michaels, these incentive programs might discourage employees from reporting accidents or hazards in their workplace to get the reward.

That is why I’m an advocate for no safety incentive programs, or if you use them, use them in a way that will help your company.


If an organization continues to implement a poorly designed plan for their safety incentive programs, this may increase accident risk. 

How can you make a good incentive plan?
  • Keep the program as simple as possible. Promote it regularly, if not weekly.
  • Make sure you have a clear goal in mind.
  • Guarantee that the rewards are genuine and relevant.
  • Ensure that proper training is provided to all employees.

Take Action

I believe that you can create an effective plan for a safety incentive program after you hear this podcast. I want you to list all the ideas that you think will help improve your company’s safety incentive programs. Then, share them with your management or in this community.

Let’s all make a safety incentive program that will not compromise your workplace and the safety of employees.

53 - Incentive Program

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] I have very strong feelings when it comes to incentive programs. And this week I received a question from somebody about creating incentive programs based on not having accidents or injuries. So get ready for a rant. Let's get to it.

This is Safety Brye, your number one safety geek. Why do we have the behaviors that we do superheroes in the workplace? Right? All of those things that go into making you an effective safety manager. I love what we do. Motivation, learning, teaching, training, teamwork, and I geek out over that just as much as I do safety. Hello. Hello. Hello. My safety friends.

How are you doing today? Welcome to the safety geek podcast, I'm Brye, you're number one safety geek. And I just [00:01:00] absolutely love to geek out about safety. So I hope that you are with me before he gets started. I wanted to tell you my conference plans for this year. So originally I had planned on going to the VPP PA conference on August 30th and August 30th in Tennessee.

But I had to cancel that and I wanted to go to that one because I'm actually on the cover of their magazine that they were giving away at the conference. So I thought it would be like super cool to be like, Hey, I'm the cover girl? You know, that's kind of cool. But, I decided to cancel it just because of the Delta variant being as bad as it is and not wanting to travel.

And I'm so lucky that I did because quite literally my tooth broke that week and that's going to cost me thousands of dollars, but there is another conference coming. And it is a national safety council conference in Orlando. If you want to risk coming [00:02:00] to Florida with a Delta variant. As of right now, I do plan on going to that conference.

I will kind of gauge the virus. I think at that point I am vaccinated, but I still don't want to get it. And my neighbor just recently passed away from it. And she's younger than me. I'm kind of freaking out a little bit about it. As of right now, I am planning on going to the national safety council conference.

I would love to know who else is going. Please hop into the community. That's community dot the safety And let me know, you know, just do a post or something saying, Hey, I'm going to the national safety council conference and let me know who else is going. And maybe we can do a meetup or something.

That would be amazing. I haven't been to the NSC1 in several years because of knee issues and things like that. And COVID and all of that. So I'm kind of excited about it, but at the same time, I'm not really sure because of the virus. So it's up in the air, but that is my plan. So let me know [00:03:00] what your plans are.

I would love to know. All right. Today, I am answering a question that came in through the community where I posted a thing saying, Hey, podcast is coming back. Give me some topic ideas. And if you didn't have the opportunity to give me one, just go into the community. Find that post, just search podcast and you'll find the post and give me some ideas on there.

Or email me at I would love your ideas and I will do podcasts on it. I have a whole list now. It's pretty awesome. The question that came in from Val. Hi Val, thank you so much for asking this question. It was that it would be great to have ways to reward team members for not having accidents, but keeping in compliance with OSHA.

And it is those last words that I want to focus on today, which is keeping in compliance with OSHA. I want to clear some confusion. And if you have not been around safety in the last six or seven years, [00:04:00] you might not understand this question and why that is the issue that I want to talk about. OSHA currently has no rules against safety incentive programs.

You could literally do anything you want to do. You could say once a year, we're going to give away a car. If we have no accident. You could do that. There are no restrictions. The reason why there is confusion as to whether or not there are restrictions is the history of this question. So I'm gonna take you down the path of memory lane here.

So that way you can kind of see. Why there is all this confusion and, and why you really need to pay attention to this history because history can come back and change things. All right. And we'll talk about that too. In may of 2016, there was a brand new record keeping rule that was published and there was a lot of things

in this rule, [00:05:00] mostly about the annual reporting on the OSHA website. And there was a bunch of stuff in there. Didn't it really didn't change too much about things. It just required this annual reporting thing. If I remember right, is the biggest deal. And like I've told you before, I don't pay attention to regulations too much because I generally do what's right anyway.

And that's always above and beyond the regulations, regardless how. However, there was a standard within this rule and it's 1904 point three five B one four. And it says you must not discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee for reporting a work related injury or illness. It is that standard right there that is causing all of the problems and confusions around drug testing as well [00:06:00] as around incentive programs.

So this rule was published in May of 2016. It was effective in August of 2016. And at that same time around August of 2016, Dr. Michaels, who was the, uh, secretary of OSHA at the time or assistant secretary of OSHA, I think is the exact title. He put out an interpretation on this and was very clear. And I'll talk about that in a minute.

And that caused a ton of pushback from companies. And then they said, okay, we won't start enforcing it until December of 2016, these years matters 2016. Okay. So what Dr. Michael said he actually did a webinar on it. And they printed it out after the webinar as well. But basically what he said, he was very explicit about how he wanted this implemented and how he wanted it in forced.

And he gave examples of if you're [00:07:00] counting the number of days injured and you're going to give a pizza party. After you hit a hundred days or something that is going to prevent people from reporting an injury, because they're going to cancel the pizza party if there's an injury. So that is not allowed something as simple as a pizza party, which costs like maybe $200.

So definitely things of like giving out large prizes, TVs, computers I've seen jet-skis, I've seen trucks, I've seen Jeeps. I mean, just craziness. It basically put safety bingo, which was all really based on no injuries as well. Um, out the window, too. He was very explicit that this was not allowed. And he gave us ways that you can actually meet that you can incentivize employees or reward employees and not dissuade people from reporting injuries.

The other example that he gave, which I found extremely interesting, and I found it something that [00:08:00] most companies didn't realize was that if somebody. Is lifting a box in a warehouse and strains their back and you drug screen them and they come out positive. And then you don't cover that injury because of it.

Or they get fired because of that drug screen. That's retaliation too. He goes because whether or not they were on drugs did not determine whether or not they would have injured their back where he's like, if they were operating a piece of equipment and they were impaired and that caused the injury, that's justifiable to do the drugs screen.

And those were his examples that he used. I found that to be extremely interesting and the company I work for at the time refused to change their drug screening. They still drug screened, ever every little thing. And I was just like, you need to be cautious. All the lawyers were like ramping up against this and, and everything.

And there were exceptions to the drug screening, you know, They've requires drug screening. If your state required drug screening for their workers' comp program, uh, you could do it then. So that was extremely interesting. So that was [00:09:00] between August of 2016. And, um, And then what happened in 2017 is we got a new president, a new administration came into the white house, and that means a new secretary of labor, a new assistant secretary to OSHA.

So new interpretation. What was even more interesting was that the Senate, because we also had a new head in the head in the Senate, they had the right to reverse any rules too. So for a while we were like on pins and needles going, are they going to even reverse this record keeping rule completely. So there was the chance that that was gonna happen.

I don't believe that happened. I think the only time that has ever happened in history is with the ergonomics regulation. Anyway, so that was 2017. We get a new administration, most companies that I talked to at that time, weren't doing anything about it. They were just ignoring the fact that this 19 0 4 35 was in there.

The only people I saw worried about [00:10:00] it, once we changed administrations were people that were in the VPP program, people that were going for stuff like that, they were concerned about it, but normal companies were not concerned about it. And I know a lot of people within my region just went back to giving away massive prizes to not report injuries.

So the next thing that happened. I was actually at a conference in August of 2018. And I heard Alexander Acosta who was a secretary of labor at the time. He was speaking at this conference and he flat out said, I reversed that ruling that Dr. Michael said, you can download it today. And I used to have a copy of his memo with a signature and everything, but I can't find it anymore.

But anyway, so he basically reversed it. And what he said to this conference was. You know, I know that there's been a lot of questions about incentive programs, but he reversed it and said, you can literally do anything. And at this conference he even said like, you can give away big prizes. And it was perfectly fine.

That was finalized [00:11:00] when Loren Sweatt. Who was the acting assistant secretary, uh, published the opinion that reversed it. And I'll put a link to that standard interpretation if you need it. That basically said, if you have good faith that you don't want people to not report incidents. That you can, you can do whatever you want with your safety incentive programs and your drug screening and all of that.

That is where we stand today, even though that happened in 2018 and we have changed administration since then. What you'll notice too, is that we changed administrations in January of 17. Alexander Acosta did not change it until August of 2018. So sometimes it takes like a year, a year or a year and a half in this case for them to change their opinions.

On that interpretation. We're only what is it September now? So we are eight months into a new administration. It doesn't mean that the new head of OSHA [00:12:00] James Frederick, he's the acting assistant secretary. It doesn't mean that he won't come along and change it back to the opinion that Dr. Michaels had, who knows what he's going to do.

But as of right now, we can only deal with what we currently have, which is. Do whatever the heck you want. Right? So this is why there is so much confusion when it comes, comes to safety incentive programs, because we got used to the opinion of Dr. Michaels for two years, basically it was from August 16 to August 18 of like, no, this is what has to be done.

And those of us who are advocates of safety, understand the value in not having incentives based on injury reporting. I, myself, this is what happened to me. I used to have a scoreboard and we were at like 200 days non-injury and I had an employee who was sweeping. The break room and the broom broke in her hand and cut her hand open and it was [00:13:00] obvious she needed stitches.

And I had to beg her to go to the doctor and she kept pointing at the scoreboard. And I know what happened afterwards. We, I made her go, she got stitches and she got picked on. For from other employees for weeks over that, oh, you messed up our score. You got us down to zero and maybe the employees weren't serious about it, but there's always some seriousness, even within jokes.

That is why I'm an advocate for not no safety incentive programs, or if you use them, use them in a way that it's actually going to help your company. This is what has caused the confusion. It's just a new rule, two different administrations, two different interpretations. And I will tell you if you're interested on how this happens on the government side and like how regulations come to be the webinar in the squad.

Last month was on reading regulations. And I went in depth into the seven stages of how regulation becomes [00:14:00] law. And, and when you become a squad member, go to community that When you become a squad member, you get access to all the old webinars as well. All right. That's the backstory. That is why this question kinda like fires me up, but let's get back to Val's question, which is rewarding employees for not having work related injuries and illnesses or accidents or anything like that.

So the answer to that question is as long as your program is in good faith, you can do whatever. You want to do. How do you demonstrate that, that program is in good faith? You put a disclaimer in your program or you disqualify them if they have, if they're found not to report an injury or you penalize them if they don't report an injury.

So, so the way I would, worder it. Where to is you're disqualified for X number of months, if you are ever found to have not reported an injury [00:15:00] or. Um, you will be suspended for three days, if you do not report an injury. So you want to make sure that you have some sort of disclaimer in your program that addresses injury reporting.

And as long as you have that, do whatever the heck you want. Basically. Now for me, The better option is to actually stick with what Dr. Michael's put out there. That incentive program should not have any relation whatsoever to incidents, accidents, injuries, illnesses, nothing like that. So what does that mean?

They made, you never have scoreboards. It means that you never give awards for the number of days worked without an accident or the number of miles driven without an accident you're not promoting or possibly even tracking how many days it's been since your last recordable or your last loss time.

Because honestly, OSHA recordability is [00:16:00] never the big picture. When it comes to your safe working behaviors, it is always those claims or the first aids or the near misses. That is my theory is that you don't have any of that. And then instead, if you want to reward your employees for going 200 days without having an injury or accident, you track it yourself and you don't share it with anyone.

And when they hit that number, you then have a celebration and you, you give them their pizza party or their taco Tuesday, or their nachos or their ice cream party, or, or you give out awards, but you never tell them ahead of time that it's going to happen and you don't make it a habit. You don't make it to where it's like every year we're giving out awards for no injuries.

Um, no, it's random. And it's unexpected and you can share it with your management team, but I highly recommend that you don't do that because your [00:17:00] management team, they love those numbers. They love to know how many days they're going without an accident and, you know, darn well that they're going to share it with the employees, which then creates.

Uh, problem in the workplace. That is my view on rewarding for no injuries. Now, like I said, in the beginning, I have a lot of opinions about incentive programs and that is why I've created a 15 page guide called crafting the perfect safety incentive program. And you can actually get this guide for free when you sign up for my masterclass, which is also free.

And attended live. So when you go through the masterclass, miracle of technology knows that you were there and that you sat through the class and it will automatically send you this 15 page guide. So if you have not attended my masterclass yet, or if you attended and dropped out before the training was over, just go to

H O [00:18:00] W T O. And you can register for the next session. I run this masterclass every weekday at different times, and I am always live in the comments to answer any questions while you are attending. And I just reviewed that guide. I sometimes they don't look at my stuff again for her while I just reviewed that guide.

There is a lot of good information in there. So you definitely want to get your hands on it, and it will tell you how to craft an incentive program that will actually give you a return on your investment for those incentives as well. And keep your employees engaged and excited. Alrighty, my safety friends, that is my rant for today.

I will be chatting with you next week and you have an amazing day. Bye for now.

Hey there. What did you think about this week's episode? I [00:19:00] would love to know. Hop up on over to and leave a comment and rating on this week show notes. And while you're there, click on that little share button to tell your friends about it. Thanks. And I'll chat with you next week.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • What is “Safety Incentive Program.”
  • Pros and Cons of Safety Incentive Program
  • Creating a Better Management System
  • Implementing the Program without Risking Safety
  • Always Follow the Safety Rules

Links Mentioned:


What are your thoughts about the safety incentive program? Do you approve of this or against it? I want to hear all your opinions about it. Please share it in the comments below.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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