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Survey gauges mill use of proactive safety recognition/incentive programs

In December 2014, the Pulp and Paper Safety Association conducted a survey among nearly 100 pulp and paper companies in North America to determine what proactive safety recognition/incentive programs were used within the industry.

Following are the results:


Do you have a safety recognition (incentive) program that is based on proactive metrics/activities?

Sixty-Nine percent of respondents to this question indicated that they had some type of program. Types of programs mentioned included:

  • Giving out "safety bucks" for attending voluntary safety committee meetings, offering good safety suggestions or correcting a safety situation, participating in a safety audit, etc. The "bucks" can be used to order items online.

  • Quarterly safety challenges, such as "find 4 things wrong with this photo" (8 photos completed in 3 months gets a prize such as a folding snow shovel, an emergency hand crank radio, or jumper cables. Other quarterly challenges have included: safety crossword puzzles, safety quizzes, etc. Some companies also have a millwide prize for reaching 150 near misses reported in 3 months.

  • Give away shirts, jackets, and meals to celebrate safety, quality, or production milestones.

  • An online system to submit hazard observations, Courage to Care, and Near Misses. Each quarter we also have a mill challenge to submit one or more of these as part of the Millwide Challenge.

  • Departmental Safety Committees conduct "meet and greets" with their co-workers. They also celebrate safe days without an injury, with a cookout.

  • STEP card participation, safety committee participation, safety audits.

One mill that did not have a formal program, said it thanked people informally for hazard observations and pre-task analysis, safety catches, suggestions for improving a process, and the like. Another mill felt that they had moved to a point where employees participate because they recognize the value [of safety], but do give out shirts, jackets, and meals to celebrate safety, quality, or production milestones.


Describe proactive metrics/activities you use.

  • Near miss reporting and training completion.

  • Percent of employee involvement.

  • Customized "Rate Your State" card used by an employee to evaluate his/her own mental state before performing a task. The card also has a Pre-Task Checklist on the back to ensure that everything possible is done to ensure the task is done safely, and there is a goal each quarter to submit a certain amount of these cards as part of the Mill Challenge.

  • Safe Days.

  • Safety Observations using the SafeStart principles as a guideline.

  • Inspections conducted by safety committee members of their own areas.

  • Operate recordable injury free and average four 10' Circle of Danger risk assessment cards for a 30 day period.

  • Joint Safety Committees that monitor performance against behavior-based safety metrics including: employee participation rate, present at-risk behaviors, reduction/elimination of hazards, safe work procedures, and CAP closure.

  • Hourly safety representatives on sites encourage participation in site safety project planning.

  • Risk assessments for non-standard work, Job Safety Observations for standard work, Departmental Safety Improvement Projects.

  • Observation Based Safety monthly targets and individual safety meeting completion rate (on-line, pure safety).

  • Near Hit reporting, safety observations, safety inspections, pre-job hazard assessments.


Anything learned that will make programs more meaningful/successful?

  • To be eligible for the quarterly bonus employees must complete all of their required training.

  • Need to continually come up with different activities to get employees involved, which is difficult.
  • Allow employees input on the design of the program.

  • The illustration that Chuck Pettinger used at last year's [PPSA] conference was very helpful. Each process we follow is a "Stop Block" to prevent injuries in the workplace. The hierarchy of controls used, observations, interventions, and PPE as a last resort.

  • Employee engagement is the key to success, but it takes several years to develop.

  • Providing effective training specific to the safety observation process (peer to peer), incident investigations, audit/inspection activity were vital.

  • Have to be ready to commit resources at all times.

  • Top to bottom buy-in is critical.

  • If you focus on proactive risk reduction activities, the incident rate will follow.

  • Shift from old lagging targets of recordability. For us it was an exact tradeoff (financially) so the employees did not feel that management was infringing on what they perceived to be an "entitlement." Consider a hard stop on each type of program for evaluation and upgrade if necessary in order to avoid the "entitlement trap."

  • Take action on suggestions and get more people to engage in safety discussions.


Any other ideas about proactive safety methods?

  • When employees start to see that these activities improve the workplace, they will start to do it for that benefit rather than for the incentive. Feedback on improvements is important.

  • We are currently at 300+ days without a recordable injury and participation has increased with each passing month even when the incentive is fixed at a $30 gift card maximum.

  • As most Safety Professionals know, you really need a "Safety Culture" not just a safety program. To reach this level requires trust and demonstration of caring at all levels of the organization.

  • Our papermaking crew worked with a local manufacturer's representative to create a more robust cut resistant glove to make doctor blade changes safer. The joint effort proved worthy of celebrating by having the crew share the experience with other areas of the facility.

  • Peer-to-peer safety observations have greatly assisted our safety program across our facility.

  • We are looking to expand our use of leading safety indicators to near-miss reporting and other items in 2015.

  • It's all about a "fair and just" culture. Upper management can constantly share the vision of caring, but if actions don't support those beliefs, it comes across as hypocritical.

  • Any proactive employee approach has to be directly supported by management.

The Pulp and Paper Safety Association (PPSA), is a voluntary association of members for the purpose of improving the safety of workers, visitors and contractors in the pulp and paper industry. To learn more go to: www.ppsa.org or contact Ashley Westbrook at: awestbrook@ppsa.org.

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