The connection between workplace health and safety programs and worker productivity is gaining strength. The benefits can include reduced sick pay and workers’ compensation claims, along with decreased absenteeism and employee turnover. Not only do employees do better on the job when their health is optimum, their motivation is higher as well, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE). MBIE states that employees in the material handling sector have seen a correlation between good health and level of productivity, including an 85 percent increase in workplace productivity and a cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 10.

As an overall result of a healthier work environment, businesses have seen, according to the MBIE report, more productivity and reduced sick pay costs, reduced injury costs as well as less production delays which often translates into more profits for the company. Additionally, in places where work health and safety was treated as a priority, there came about more cooperation between employees and upper management.

Employees do better
on the job when their
health is optimum,
and their motivation
is higher.

Encouraging safe behavior

It’s one thing to tell people to use safety precautions on the job, but it’s another thing entirely to enforce it. It can be time-consuming and even inconvenient to follow certain procedures for workplace safety, so how do you encourage staff members to pull their weight and comply, even when managers are yelling about getting things done quickly to meet quotas?

Managers and owners would be wise to balance incentives with expected outcome, which usually entails a boost in productivity yet with a focus on safety. Offering cash rewards, gift cards and employee-of-the-month plaques all work very well to this end. However, on the flip side, sometime these programs have the opposite effect of tempting employees to cover up potential hazards in order to meet those reward requirements and reduce peer pressure to avoid incident reporting, and in some cases, there have been accused instances of “cooking the books,” for fear of not tampering with the current workplace safety and health numbers.

OSHA stresses education as the main message in the promotion of workplace safety programs promoting positive employee behavior without the focus being so much on rewards that encourage injury suppression rates. This education can involve continual training of employees, which is primarily the best course of action to avoid any accident in the workplace.

The frequency of continuing to further educate your employees can be done according to discretion of the employer; however, it is highly recommended that it take place at least once a month. Complacency can often result from a lack of training, aside from the initial phase of safety education and training. Your workplace may see a rise in accidents if your employees aren’t being consistently educated and trained.