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Behavioral Psychologists tell us that the consequences of current or past behavior have the strongest influence on future behavior. In the world of safety this means that for most people, if they personally have not suffered a negative outcome due to their past at risk behavior, will tend to see that at risk behavior as safe, comfortable, convenient and correct for them.
You can hold safety classes, show your people safety films, bring in safety trainers, develop committees and post rules and regulations on safe working procedures; and all of these measures will help; but until your employees become engaged in the safety process and modify their personal at risk behavior, you're fighting a losing battle against time developed and reinforced bad habits.
Modifying bad behavior requires frequent reinforcement over long periods of time. The negative consequences of at risk behavior usually do not occur frequently enough to effectively cause permanent change in that behavior.
The good news is that positive reinforcement of positive outcomes is easier and less expensive to control; and time and time again positive reinforcement produces positive results.
Countless behavioral studies show that people react positively to positive reinforcement. In fact, they will repeat the positive behavior that brought about that positive reward in hope of a repeat of that positive outcome. The longer your people work to achieve the goals you have set, the more the likelihood that positive behavior will replace their previous at risk bad habits.
A properly structured safety incentive program can be a positive reinforcement tool that reinforces everything from training, to safety rules and regulations, to increasing employee participation in the safety process. It’s a win, win.