Getting Workers to Punish Other Workers

After another failed round of safety bingo, it's becoming difficult to justify "safety incentive programs" in the nursing home setting. Perhaps it's the implementation (pulling and posting a bingo number everyday), keeping workers focused on the goal of the program (and avoiding employee-discovered loopholes in the game), or perhaps they really don't work. You're more apt to find resources discouraging these programs than promoting them.

What's the problem? These programs often discourage workers from reporting minor injuries and accidents that can later lead to nagging problems. Workers in this frame of mind are less likely to report facility issues that could later lead to serious harm if not addressed timely. Consider a dietary employee that cuts their hand on a utensil hanging on a poorly placed knife rack. If this employee reports their minor cut, they will lose their opportunity at the "safety incentive prize" or perhaps even jeopardize everyone from earning the incentive. So they don't report this problem. This increases the likelihood that someone else will now injure themself, perhaps more seriously, as a result of your safety program.

I have several suggestions for alternatives to these "blame the worker" programs.

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