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5+ Ways to Increase Worker Participation in Health & Safety Programs

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

A successful safety and health program is no accident! Achieving an injury-free workplace is not lucky, it comes from establishing an effective program – one based on a solid foundation of recognized best practices. OSHA has compiled a summary of recommended practices with seven core elements for health and safety programs. The framework aligns well to ISO 45001 and ANSI-Z10 Occupational Safety and Health Management standards. You can find an array of safety management system resources available on OSHA’s website.

The elements that make up the framework of OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs include:

1. Management Leadership

2. Worker Participation

3. Hazard Identification and Assessment

4. Hazard Prevention and Control

5. Education and Training

6. Program Evaluation and Improvement

7. Communication and Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies

In this article we focus on leveraging EHS (Environmental, Health, and Safety) software technology to increase worker participation because it takes much more than requiring employees to report hazards to consider your program ‘participation-friendly’.

Here are multiple ways you can proactively engage employees in your safety and health program. Included is a peek inside the ultimate employee engagement tool offered by Safework Solutions – Safework Suite™ Stop Work Authority tracking software.

1. Make it easy to involve workers in all aspects of the program

When the safety management tools and resources are locked up in the safety manager’s office, it is impossible to ensure employees understand how the program works or have a sense of ownership. An EHS software system makes it easy to get workers involved in proactive programs like Behavior Based Safety observations, hazard and risk assessment reporting, and Stop Work Authority reporting.

Transitioning your program to an EHS software system allows employees to get immediate feedback on observations while also seeing exactly what goes on behind the scenes in health and safety, like with workplace inspections, results and corrective actions. With these readily available tools, employees are more likely to stay involved in your program and offer meaningful suggestions for continuous safety improvement.

2. Give workers access to safety and health information

Gone are the days of hand-written safety suggestions and bulky job safety analysis binders. Today’s challenges are about making EHS software management systems more accessible to workers and gain insight into safety data to identify trends. When laptop and desktop computers are not available in the work area, mobile applications and KIOSK login systems put the safety management system tools in front of your employees.

Safework Suite is a complete EHS software solution for managing a safe workplace. The tools are available on a mobile-friendly platform that brings key safety business processes to the employees’ fingertips. Whether you allow mobile phone use or have work area iPads, front line employees have access to proactive reporting programs such as Stop Work Events, Near Misses and Hazard Reporting.

Employees also must be protected from retaliation for exercising a variety of rights guaranteed under the OSH Act, including raising safety concerns with their employers, reporting unsafe conditions and work-related injuries or illnesses. Having a Stop Work Authority program – like that offered in the Safework Suite Stop Work Authority tracking tool – enables employees to record concerns without fear of repercussion or retaliation by management.

3. Remove barriers to participation

Language is an all-too common barrier that comes up in workplace safety. It may not be immediately obvious that an employee has not mastered the English language until it is too late: An incident investigation reveals an overall lack of awareness towards the hazard despite documented communications and trainings.

Safework Suite complies with OSHA where information is provided to employees in a language that is understandable to them. Employees can choose their language preference such as Spanish, French, or Punjabi.

4. Encourage workers to participate in the program

While some organizations jump for safety incentives, these programs need to be carefully managed to avoid discouraging injury and illness reporting. Rewards-based initiatives and “buying” employee commitment can become ineffective in the long term. It is more effective to acknowledge their contributions and provide frequent positive reinforcement to those who participate in the program

Gamification is an excellent way to energize employee involvement in the safety and health program by recognizing participation rather than rewarding a lack of accidents. EHS management software allows you to incorporate positive reinforcement through gamification.

Safework Suite EHS Software has built-in gaming elements designed to influence employee participation by utilizing:

  • Top 10 Employee Leaderboards

  • Point scoring & Quality Rating

  • Achievement badges and levels

  • Real-time performance reporting

  • Peer-to-peer competition

  • Sharing of employee reported hazards

5. Encourage workers to report concerns

Many organizations expect employees to report hazards regularly. Some may even require a certain number of hazards be reported each month. This can backfire and land the safety manager with an inbox full of easy-to-identify, but low-risk hazards.

Safework Suite™ Hazard Hunt feature provides monthly topics to aid employees in the proactive identification of a variety of hazards and can be set up on a location-specific basis. The Hazard Hunt feature refreshes employee focus while driving hazard recognition and knowledge of controlling methods.

Safework Suite™ Shared Learning System is another great way to increase worker participation particularly when the learning is related to an employee participation event. Think about how an employee will respond when their submission of a hazard related event (a good catch) is shared with all co-workers! A shared learning system promotes organizational-wide learning from incidents and near misses.


When you are looking at the seven core elements of a health and safety program, it should be no surprise that Worker Participation is #2 on the list. Getting and keeping employees involved is an on-going effort. When properly implemented, workers understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the safety and health program, which drives efforts. Organizations that involve their employees every step of the way are the ones to achieve injury-free workplaces.

That is why Safework Solutions was created: To solve the challenges of paper management systems while aligning software tools to the core elements of recognized best practices for occupational safety and health management programs. If you are looking for a good start to your employee engagement goals, check out Safework Suite Stop Work Authority tracking software.

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