Safety Awards Programs: A Rewarding Experience

Aug. 20, 2008
We are too small. We don't have the time or resources. Which type of program should we enter? What is the value? What if we don't win? What to do if we do win? These are common questions and concerns that companies have voiced in relation to safety awards programs. Let's evaluate each starting with…

We are too small – Many companies have this mindset, although it is misleading. As an employer, it is every company’s duty to provide a safe environment for their workforce. The size of a company does not diminish the need to have a quality safety program. Safety awards programs give all companies, regardless of size, a means to “measure” their program against the industry it does business in.

We don’t have the time or the resources – This concern usually is related to the size of the company or the perception that there isn’t any significant value associated with the “trouble” of the application process for the safety award. Companies believe there is never enough time – yet time is invested in every decision making process along with the proper resources to effectively succeed.

Which type of award program should we enter? – Each company should evaluate the various awards programs on a local and national basis. Start locally with various associations that the company may be members of or programs promoted by the community. This provides the opportunity to enhance the reward in an area where your company does business and your employees may reside.

Acknowledgement on a local basis can have a widespread effect to the company marketing efforts with local owners and clients. National programs can provide the company, its industry and its community a chance to compete and be recognized on a more global scale.

Safety awards programs usually vary from being “heavy” on statistics to programs that promote a balance of statistical information with narratives of your processes. I prefer the latter for a more comprehensive evaluation of your program.

What is the value? – The value begins at the application process. Each company has a unique opportunity to take a “look inside” their own processes/programs during this submission stage. The application process, especially if it is not defined by statistics only, will ask for various information from principal commitment, emergency procedures and inspections to return to work and training programs.

The company can reflect upon their program based on the criteria being asked. The value continues as the company discusses what has been “discovered” during the application process. Hopefully the individual(s) involved will disseminate the information to all parties that can promote growth within the company.

Next is the anticipation. Let all the employees get involved (if you haven’t already in the application process). They are your stakeholders. This could create constructive conversations, enhance pride, and increase awareness and input for other programs/processes.

What if we don’t win? – Maximize the information/feedback from the award process into a campaign to enhance your program. Ask within: what can we do better? What can we do more consistent? Is there a need to create new processes to supplement the existing program?

What To Do if We Do Win? – Celebrate! Share the victory with everyone within the company. Make it a special time for all to understand their contribution to the company success. Market it through signage, company letterhead, newsletters to previous clients and add to all future proposals for business. Educate your employees during this time that this is the beginning – that you have “set the bar” to at least maintain or improve your program. Note that this enhances their work environment.

Construction Safety Excellence Awards

Earlier in this article, I wrote that a preferred Safety Award program would be one that was more comprehensive in the information for the application. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has a program in its tenth year that is considered one of the best in the construction industry.

The Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) program, sponsored by Willis, has been an ongoing and evolving effort by the AGC to recognize companies who have developed and implemented excellent safety and loss prevention programs achieved through management commitment, active employee participation, safety training, work hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation.

Award categories have applicants competing in five divisions: Building, Construction Management, Highway, Heavy and Municipal & Specialty Contractor for first, second and third place awards.

A Grand Award recipient is selected from the first place award winners representing each of the above categories. This award is considered the “Best of the Best.”

The applications are available in August from local AGC chapters. AGC chapters submit their recommendations to the National AGC. Members of the AGC Safety & Health Committee select the finalists. The finalists then have an opportunity to give an oral presentation in front of a panel of safety experts. All winners are acknowledged at the Willis Safety Awards Breakfast at the AGC Annual Convention in March.

Any questions about the AGC program may be directed to the AGC Director – Safety and Health Services at (703) 837-5410.

The AGC program is one of note, yet there are numerous across the country, such as Occupational Hazards’ America’s Safest Companies ( Find a safety awards program for your company – the benefit will be a positive one regardless of the ultimate outcome.

Remember – the reward is the learning experience.

Carlos Figueroa, Jr., is corporate risk & safety manager for Donley’s Inc.

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