Difference Between Reactive And Proactive Recognition
Reactive vs. Proactive Recognition
Safety recognition may be reactive, proactive, or both. The approach depends on the nature of the actions or behaviors that are being recognized.
Unfortunately, some companies recognize in a “reactive” way for behaviors and actions that occur after incidents and accidents. Reactive safety recognition programs are ineffective because they function only to minimize the negative impact of events that have already occurred. What is the most common inappropriate behavior in a reactive safety culture? Failing to report accidents.
That’s right! “Failing to report” is behavior as much as the act of reporting. Why do employees decide not to report an injury?
Look for a sign in the workplace that says something like, “300 accident-free days!” When you see a sign like this, the company may reward its employees for withholding injury reports. Sure, they might have 300 days without a reported accident, but that does not necessarily mean they have been accident-free for 300 days: it may only mean they have gone that long without accidents being reported. Some workplaces may be full of “walking wounded” because employees don’t report an injury or illness. So, why don’t employees report accidents?
The problem occurs because employees don’t think it’s necessary or may be afraid to report their injuries. Employees don’t want to spoil their department’s safety record, especially
if they are competing with other departments. In some instances, the peer pressure is so great that employees will not report an injury until it’s obvious or the pain becomes so severe they miss work and must report it to their supervisor. Consequently, the actual number of injuries in the workplace may decline, but the severity of each injury increases, as do the associated accident costs. In such cases, everybody loses.
The most effective type of safety recognition is “proactive” because it rewards behaviors and actions that help to prevent injuries and illness. After all, they occur before incidents and accidents occur. Proactive recognition rewards employee behaviors, such as reporting hazardous conditions, unsafe behaviors, near-miss incidents, and accidents.
Proactive recognition programs help to prevent future accidents. A very important proactive safety recognition program policy states that employees will always receive positive recognition for reporting near-misses, incidents, and accidents. They will never be reprimanded. Below are examples of proactive behaviors:
- Supervisors personally conduct regular safety inspections; and
- The employer disciplines for unsafe behavior when justified.
- Employees comply with company and OSHA safety rules; and
- Employees report near-misses, incidents, and accidents.
- Everyone makes safety suggestions; and
- Management and employees participate in safety (committees, teams, events, etc).
When managers, supervisors, and employees are recognized for these behaviors, their overall involvement in safety and health increases significantly. They become more aware, interested, and involved in uncovering unsafe work conditions, practices, and safety management system weaknesses. They also know that reporting hazards as soon as they occur reduces direct and indirect safety costs.