Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program: Step 6: Fair & Consistent Disciplinary Policy and Positive Reinforcement

To ensure that your workplace health and safety program continues to run effectively and meet its goals, it’s necessary to implement a policy for rewarding positive contributions and correcting unsafe behaviors. It’s important to maintain an encouraging tone when it comes to implementing this policy; disciplinary actions should only be taken when a worker is uncooperative or consistently impeding the success of the program.

Before you think about positive reinforcement and discipline, it’s important to ensure that all managers and workers know and understand your program’s objectives and policies. If workers are unsure about procedures or how to complete certain tasks safely, that indicates program failure rather than individual failure. You can begin considering reinforcement and discipline once you are sure that all members of your organization are clear on what is expected of them. 

A successful program creates an open conversation in which all workers and supervisors are encouraged to participate. By rewarding positive actions, you show other workers that participation is valued. If workers see safety program compliance as a factor that could Provide positive recognition for actions that support the success of your safety program. Actions that support the program may include:

  • Reporting hazards
  • Reporting near misses/close calls
  • Conducting inspections
  • Attending training sessions

If you followed the previous steps for developing an effective workplace health and safety program, the need for disciplinary action should be minimal. However, you should set policy and be consistent about discipline. This is the standard order of disciplinary actions for safety violations that we recommend you implement at your workplace:

  1. Verbal Warning: This is an informal conversation that shouldn’t be a negative experience for the person receiving the warning. It should be presented as an opportunity for them to learn the proper procedures and correct their behavior. 
  2. Written Warning: A second offense indicates that the policy was understood, but ignored or forgotten. A written warning makes it clear that you are taking the behavior seriously. It should also outline what will happen if the behavior is not corrected. 
  3. Suspension: The employee will be given a formal written letter telling them how long they will be suspended for. Most companies suspend with pay, but not all. 
  4. Termination: This is the final step. If an employee has been given a verbal warning, a written warning, and a suspension and continues to violate safety policy, termination is necessary. 

Would you like assistance with developing an effective workplace health and safety program, contact United Alliance Services today. We offer safety consulting, workplace training programs, assessments,  and other services that help businesses become safer and more productive. Check out our Safety Services.

Read the previous Steps:

Step 1: Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program: Step 1: Leadership

Step: Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program: Step 2: Communication and Awareness

Step 3: Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program: Step 3: Tracking Trends & Effectiveness

Step 4: Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program: Step 4: Accountability

Step 5: Developing an Effective Health and Safety Program Step 5: Immediate Corrective Action