Spotlight on safety

Departments - Rob & Duplicate

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May 2, 2016

Simple solutions to common problems you face every day

Photo courtesy of Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care

Employees at Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care in Denver want to earn a spot on the wall. After one year without any safety incidents, employees get their photos hung in the office, earning them recognition and rewards through an incentivized safety program Swingle introduced in 2009.

“You constantly have to keep the awareness up so that you keep the complacency out of your workplace,” says Kelly Gouge, Swingle’s director of operations. “One of the ways to do that is by recognizing the folks who have achieved milestones without any incidents.”

Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care prioritizes safety by rewarding employees for reaching safety goals.

With a safety committee made up of employees, Swingle monitors incidents including personal injuries, property damage, service at the wrong address, pesticide spills, vehicle accidents and excessive traffic violations. If any of these happen, the employee’s one-year countdown starts over.

After 30 days without incident, new Swingle employees receive a water bottle with the Swingle logo. After 60 days, they get a logoed lunch sbox. After 90 days, they get a Gerber pocket tool.

After a full year without any safety incidents, employees get their photo in a scrolling digital picture frame, along with an incentive valued at $200. Each employee gets to choose the gift they receive at the safety meeting.

“Essentially, we felt like money comes and goes,” Gouge says. “But if we provide an item that means something to them – whether that’s fishing gear or a barbecue grill – then that item is always tied to that occurrence. Every time they go fishing, they remember how they got it, and that’s a pretty important connection to build into this program.”

"You constantly have to keep the awareness up so that you keep the complacency out of your workplace.” Kelly Gouge, director of operations, Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care

The incentive increases by $100 each year, capping at $600 annually for five years or more without incident. While that’s a rare record, a few Swingle employees have hit the reward cap. Currently, 48 of Swingle’s 125 field employees have been incident-free at least one year.

Obviously, the safer your team behaves, the higher the cost of the program. But consider the potentially devastating costs and situations you’re preventing.

“It does take an investment up front to reduce lost time, damages and injuries in the long-run,” Gouge says. “This isn’t a free program, but investing in this says that you’re interested in your employees’ health and well-being.”

Plus, the program actually works: Since introducing these incentives in 2009, Swingle has reduced the frequency of safety incidents from 4.8 to 3.1 per 10,000 hours worked.