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Safety 101 - Lesson 34

One of the struggles you have no doubt encountered is how to motivate members of the department to do their job safely. If you are in a career environment, this may come easy, as you probably have a progressive discipline process for those who don't comply. However, volunteers may not have such a policy and where they do, find it very difficult to enforce.

Several of the prior lessons have advanced the idea of promotion of safety, reinforcing safety and rewarding safety. In each case, the intent is to bring safe actions into the mainstream of operations by maintaining an omnipresence of "safety."

Finding a unique way to motivate personnel to think safety can always be challenging, yet corporate America has used this technique successfully to promote safety and keep losses low or at reasonable levels.

Positive safety promotion techniques can involve fun and unique activities and products. They can be combined with motivational gifts and awards. Many of our emergency service organizations give annual awards for training, most calls attended, etc., but how many of us give out an award to the person who promotes safety the most (other than the safety officer).

Experience in the corporate world has found the enthusiasm for safety initiatives can be generated with the help of such motivational gifts and awards. The safest personnel would take great pride in being recognized for a job well done, while others will become motivated to work safer and more diligently.

You may wish to kick off your incentive programs around a specific date or safety initiative. A new driving safety initiative may warrant key rings for everyone with a safety message on a coffee cup, customized to the program for constant focus, or maybe a baseball hat for having no accidents for a specified period of time.


Whatever the activity or time period, ideas abound to introduce creative and cost effective motivational awards and gifts to award and promote safe performance. You may even want to discuss with key members of the organization, what awards an prized may be of most value to them and what the criteria for the award should be. Involve personnel in the decision making.

Safety incentives and reminders bring important messages to the forefront on a constant, repetitive basis. What are some key considerations and examples you might ask?

Keep Safety in the Minds of Everyone
Banners, lapel pins, decals, posters, name badges, and the like will call attention to your safety initiative and remind all of your personnel to always stay safe. Keepsake quality items help recognize and promote safe work practices that get the message across, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Get Attention of Personnel With Special "Treats" Popcorn, candy, gum, cookies, drinks, water, cookie packs, health food, etc. can excite personnel and promote safety by using these "treats," featuring clear, memorable safety tips and messages on the wrappers.

Reward Safety Efforts
Flashlights, tool kits, hats, shirts, windbreakers, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, etc., are typical gifts and incentives that provide positive reinforcement for your personnel safety efforts. They can even include slogans or logos that serve as a constant reminder to make safety everyone's priority.

Personalize Your Message
Any product can be used to personalize your message, your logo, or slogan.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to think of a safety message or slogan, but there are many basic slogans that may serve as thought provoking messages for you. These include:

  • Safety starts with you.
  • Always keep safety at hand.
  • At work, or play, let safety lead the way.
  • Never tire of safety
  • We're wild about safety
  • Make zero accidents your goal
  • Think safety every day
  • Keep safety in mind
  • Safety is everyone's responsibility
  • Committed to safety
  • Aim for safety
  • Always time for safety
  • Take safety wherever you go
  • Safety is the best tool
  • Safety is my job
  • Everyone wins with safety
  • Safety is always the right call

Imagine your organization safety logo, safety slogan or similar safety message imprinted on a backpack, travel mug, pen, auto travel kit, wall plaque, clock, travel bag, tool kit, thermal container, barbeque tool set, towel or some similar item. Your message gets across. It is repetitive, and it works. Businesses have used this technique for decades - can it work for you?

Lesson 34: Energize your safety program with new ways to educate and reward employees through promotions and incentives.

Safety 101 - A new series from the technical and administrative perspective, designed to help you reduce emergency responder injuries, illnesses, property loss and death!

DR. WILLIAM F. JENEWAY, CSP, CFO, CFPS, a Contributing Editor, is Executive Vice President of VFIS and has over 30 years experience in safety and risk management in the insurance industry. He was named "Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year" as Chief of the King of Prussia, PA, Volunteer Fire Company, and is the author the text Emergency Service Risk Management. He has partipated the NVFC Corner podcast on