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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Research Council. 2023. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27176.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Research Council. 2023. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27176.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Research Council. 2023. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27176.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Research Council. 2023. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27176.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Research Council. 2023. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27176.
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6 This review focuses on previously published academic literature on the use of safety incen- tive and disincentive programs to motivate safe behaviors. However, little documented knowledge exists in this domain, especially related to DOTs’ management of highway construction and maintenance crews. Thus, the review begins with an introduction to types of safety incentive programs, then implementation and challenges as noted from the literature and case examples and effectiveness of the incentive programs from the literature. A higher-level overview of main- tenance worker safety management in the United States highway industry can be found in the “Background” section of the Introduction. Types of Safety Incentive Programs Safety incentive programs can be implemented in different forms. An incentive is a reward offered to workers for good safety practices to motivate employees to abide by safety guide- lines. Construction companies have devised innovative ways to reward safe behavior (Molenaar et al. 2009). Rewards can be financial, where workers are awarded a bonus on their salary for safe working behaviors, or they can be in the form of gifts, such as T-shirts, jackets, caps, and so forth (Hinze 2002). Some companies offer their crews a free lunch or dinner (Hinze 2002). Other rewards involve offering employees an extra paid day off at the end of the month if they have an excellent safety record for that month or meet their safety goal (Li et al. 2015). In some cases, construc- tion companies have used better job advancement opportunities for a construction worker as a reward for a healthy safety record. In this case, the safety record of a worker is weighed and considered heavily in the criteria for job advancement, thus encouraging workers to actively consider safe practices in their tasks (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). An innovative approach includes offering workers a “safety buck” every time they exhibit important safety knowledge or are observed performing a task in a safe manner; the buck can be exchanged at a later date for a specific reward. The more “safety bucks” collected, the better the reward (Hinze 2002). Some construction companies offer workers with the best safety record the freedom of assignment as a reward (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). Additional forms of rewards include company souvenirs and tickets to sporting events. Aside from rewards of monetary value, companies offer incentives in the form of positive social and psychological reinforcement, where the safety professional offers recognition to a worker performing a task safely (Winn et al. 2004). Positive reinforcement can be significantly rewarding during toolbox meetings, where employees exhibiting safe behavior are recognized in front of the entire crew (Molenaar et al. 2009). In other cases, workers are offered a written letter of appreciation or recognition signed by management as a thank you for safe working behavior and practices, which reaffirms the company’s commitment to safety (Winn et al. 2004). C H A P T E R   2 Literature Review

Literature Review 7   In 2002, Banik (2002) conducted an extensive survey of construction companies to under- stand the types and frequency of employee incentive rewards (see Table 2.1). The study found that the vast majority of companies offer a special hard hat or mug as a reward (92%), a dinner or lunch (90%), and a written note of appreciation or recognition (88%) (Banik 2002). Much less frequently offered incentives are stock ownership (25%), denim jackets (15%), and pick-up trucks (13%). Implementation and Challenges of Safety Incentives Programs While the rewards of a safety incentive program are offered to workers who exhibit good safety practices, there are different approaches for evaluating how and when rewards are offered (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Three main categories of incentive programs can be summa- rized as follows: Injury-Based Incentive Program An injury-based incentive program bases the award of incentives on avoiding or lowering the rate of work-related accidents (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). In this program, a specific rate of injuries is set, and individuals or crews on site are rewarded with a prespecified incentive if they meet this goal. While this might theoretically encourage workers on a construction site to abide by safety regulations to lower incidents, this approach may have some unintended consequences. This program directly associates rewards with the number of injuries. For this reason, workers may be tempted to avoid reporting injuries that do occur because they do not want to lose out on the reward (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Particularly when the reward is received by an entire crew for a good safety record, an injured worker may face peer pressure to not report the incident out of fear that the entire crew will lose the reward. A culture of blame may ensue among crew members, leading to further conflict, less cooperation, and lowered productivity (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). Another potential issue with this injury-based incentive program is that it can provide manage- ment with false feedback that causes further mistrust between workers and safety officials or people in the management field (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Safety is not an exact science, Types of Incentive Rewards Percent of Companies That Offer a Reward Special hard hat/mug 92 Dinner/lunch 90 Written appreciation/recognition 88 Cash 62 Tickets to sporting events 62 Training/education 62 Bonus 56 Television/stereo 44 Freedom/special assignments 40 Promotion/advancement 37 Paid vacation days 33 Stock ownership 25 Denim jackets 15 Pick-up trucks 13 Other 27 Table 2.1. Types of incentive rewards offered (adapted from Banik 2002).

8 Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews and accidents sometimes happen despite a crew’s best efforts to avoid them. A crew might make substantial strides in their efforts to implement safe working practices to avoid injuries and yet still face an injury, and thus would likely miss out on the reward based on this incentive program. However, at the same time, a crew that does not employ any safe working practices might be lucky and avoid an injury, thus receiving a reward. Due to the potential to discriminate against some employees and promote nonreporting of injuries, OSHA discourages the use of outcome-based incentives (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). In 2012, OSHA released an official memorandum seeking to restrict and clarify its position on injury reporting-based incentive and disincentive programs (Fairfax 2012). The memo states: Incentive programs that discourage employees from reporting their injuries are problematic because, under section 11(c), an employer may not ‘in any manner discriminate’ against an employee because the employee exercises a protected right, such as the right to report an injury. . . . In addition, if the incentive is great enough that its loss dissuades reasonable workers from reporting injuries, the program would result in the employer’s failure to record injuries that it is required to record under Part 1904. In this case, the employer is violating that rule, and a referral for a recordkeeping investigation should be made. (Fairfax 2012) Injury/Hazard Reporting Incentive Programs This approach to a safety incentive program is based on injury/hazard reporting. Hazard iden- tification and injury reporting remain a problem in the construction industry, where workers are scared of reporting unsafe working conditions, despite the receptiveness of management to tackle such issues, out of fear of retaliation (Lipscomb et al. 2013). In this program, the workers are encouraged to report injuries and hazards to management and are rewarded for successfully reporting such issues. This approach is supposed to help build trust between the workforce and management. It incen- tivizes workers to have a proactive approach to identifying hazards that may be the cause of potential injuries (Lipscomb et al. 2013). It also encourages workers to report their injuries to management and therefore get treatment, limiting the potential of major injuries as a result of compounded untreated, minor injuries. Implementing this program has a major upside: it helps eliminate the adversarial system between workers and management (Lipscomb et al. 2013). It also helps build a culture among workers that emphasizes the importance of safety on con- struction projects. However, since the incentives are related to the number of reports made, there is a potential for abuse by workers, who may tend to report injuries that do not exist or hazards that are not there for the sake of getting the rewards of this incentive program (Lipscomb et al. 2013). This may again lead to skepticism from management about any reports made by employees, which may again lead to further mistrust between the workforce and management on a construction site. Behavior-Based Incentive Programs This approach to a safety incentive program is based on the observed behavior of an employee. In this case, the criteria for offering rewards to construction workers rely on their observed safe behavior rather than on the outcome of their behavior—that is, the number of injuries recorded (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Such safe behavior may include participation in a safety meeting and training, engaging in talks about safety guidelines during toolbox meetings, providing input and feedback that can help improve safe job site working conditions, taking all required safety precautions before executing any work-related task, and prioritizing safety over the production rate (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). As stated earlier, construction companies struggle with the problem of underreporting. Other approaches, such as injury/illness-based incentive programs, may encourage workers to hide

Literature Review 9   and cover up their injuries, or the injury/hazard reporting incentive programs may result in workers providing false feedback. The behavior-based incentive program can help eliminate these problems because rewards are solely based on a worker’s behavior rather than on the behavior’s outcome (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). It can also help solve the problem of low attendance in safety meetings and trainings because that behavior is considered rewarding (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Also, behavior-based observation can supply management with data about equipment and facilities that could put more workers at risk of injury (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Safe behavior does not always result in a safe outcome, and not all performed work is equally hazardous or risky. This approach can help remove the bias of an outlier outcome in otherwise safe behavior. However, behavior-based incentives are difficult to specify and implement (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). A safety incentive entails a promise given to workers in advance of the commencement of a task or work operation to outline the expected outcomes or behaviors for a reward to be gained (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). This means that there should be a predetermined set of guidelines for behaviors and actions based on which workers will be rewarded. Defining all safe behaviors and actions in performing tasks can be challenging, given that each task or act requires a different set of safety guidelines. Therefore, rewarding on this basis can be unfair to construction workers because it can heavily rely on the judgment of what the management personnel or safety officials deem to be safe actions or behaviors (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Inconsistent rewarding can cause problems among the work- force for what is believed to be unearned rewards and can incite conflict between workers and management personnel (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). Observing all behavior and actions can also be demanding, as it is nearly impossible to observe all workers all the time (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). This may lead workers to act safely only when they believe they are being observed and evaluated and to disregard safety guidelines when they are not watched. Com- mitting to safe behavior must be a commitment all the time; taking shortcuts when no one is observing your actions undermines the program’s purpose. The effectiveness of this program has been called into question (Goodrum and Gangwar 2004). Because it can lead to a sense of unfairness and a perception of subjectivity about the reward system given any rising inconsistencies in the award of the incentives, workers may lose interest in this program because they will think that it is not fairly designed and that their safe behavior may not be rewarded. Incentive programs are inherently based on worker interest, and if that interest is lost in a program, the program expires and becomes ineffective (Karakhan and Gambatese 2018). Case Examples from Literature In a case study by Goodrum and Gangwar (2004) of 133 companies, 79 companies with a mean volume of $101 million provided a safety incentive program and 54 companies with a mean volume of $21 million did not provide a safety incentive program. The mean of the OSHA record- able incidence rates for companies with a safety incentive was 4.20, while the mean of the OSHA recordable incidence rates for companies without a safety incentive program was 5.46. These numbers indicate that the companies with a safety incentive program have, on average, lower OSHA recordable incident rates, implying that the safety incentive program is effective because there is approximately a 23% reduction in injuries as a result of using a safety incen- tive program. However, the p-value calculated was 0.2, which statistically means there was no difference between the two groups. Thus, it may undermine the conclusion that safety incentive programs are effective. In a study by Hinze (2002) on large projects and large firms, he found that companies that have safety incentive programs have seen inconsistent results, indicating that safety incentives may not be a “silver bullet” to address all safety issues. However, similar to Goodrum and Gangwar

10 Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews (2004), Hinze (2002) found no statistical significance for the results obtained. On the other hand, when a safety incentive program was implemented, Hinze compared the incidence rates based on the criteria on which the incentive was awarded (for large projects). He found that when the incentive was based on the targeted incidence rate, the incidence rate was 2.16. However, when the incentive was based on safe behaviors, the incidence rate was 0.95, with the results having a statistical significance. This indicates that safe behavior is a better concept to incentivize than a targeted incidence rate. Hinze also found that offering a raise as an incentive resulted in improved incidence rates with results having a statistical significance. In a study by Hinze and Gambatese (2003), the authors compared the median incidence rate for companies with and without a safety incentive program for Nevada specialty contractors and roofing companies. They found that, for Nevada specialty contractors, companies with an incentive program had an incidence rate of 11.33 compared to 14.04 for companies without a safety incentive program. They also found that for roofing companies, companies with an incen- tive program had a median incidence rate of 17.39 compared to 9.52 for companies without an incentive program. All results had statistical significance. Hinze found that the results were contradictory when measuring the effectiveness of a safety incentive program. Banik (2002) surveyed construction companies to understand better some of the challenges and limitations of a safety incentive program. Two of the reasons rose to the top with “does not improve safety performance” and “difficult to administer regularly and fairly” receiving 86% and 79% of respondents noting those issues, respectively (see Table 2.2). Other noted challenges were “busy with other aspects of construction” (43%), “management does not believe in it” (36%), “not an owner requirement” (28%), and “too expensive” (21%). Minimal research has been conducted historically to investigate occupational safety and health issues for DOTs broadly (Hallmark et al. 2002; Chung et al. 2013; Gambatese et al. 2017). A search for a comprehensive assessment of the state of practice for safety incentive and disincentive programs for DOTs did not result in a finding. This synthesis fills that gap by surveying and interviewing DOTs on their existing incentive programs and capturing knowledge for DOTs without an incentive program to help them better understand, plan, and succeed in implemen- tation. It also adds to a small but increasing body of knowledge for occupational safety and health practices for DOTs, primarily through the NCHRP synthesis program. Reasons for not having a safety incentive program Percent of Companies Does not improve safety performance 86 Difficult to administer regularly and fairly 79 Busy with other aspects of construction 43 Management does not believe in it 36 Not an owner requirement 28 Too expensive 21 Other 28 Table 2.2. Challenges noted with incentive programs (adapted from Banik, 2002).

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In comparable private sectors, incentive and disincentive programs have effectively promoted safe behaviors by employees. However, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have unique limitations and restrictions on their ability to financially incentivize safe actions by highway construction and maintenance crews or, in some cases, implement corrective actions to disincentivize unsafe actions. While navigating these restrictions is difficult, some DOTs have implemented unique approaches in order to institute incentives, including monetary awards, certificates, personal protective equipment, meals, and more.

NCHRP Synthesis 608: Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews, from TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program, documents state DOTs practices regarding safety incentive and disincentive programs for highway construction and maintenance crews.

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