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Page 44
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Summary of Findings." 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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Page 44
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Summary of Findings." 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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Page 45
Page 46
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Summary of Findings." 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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Page 46

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44 The primary objective of this synthesis is to document state DOT practice regarding safety incentive and disincentive programs for DOT highway construction and maintenance crews, related motivational techniques, and written policies or training to implement these programs. Each objective was previously addressed in the survey results presented in Chapter 3 and DOT case examples described in Chapter 4. The following sections revisit the primary findings of this NCHRP synthesis study. The information used to generate the conclusions comes from the 40 DOTs that responded to the survey and the five DOTs that participated in the case example interviews. When specific numbers are referenced, the non-responsive states are not included in the findings. Summarized Findings Types of formal safety incentive or disincentive programs (i.e., structured, written DOT policy): • There were few DOTs (33%) that had a formal safety incentive or disincentive program, as noted in Figure 3.2. Those agencies often looked at incentivizing participation in the safety program rather than safety-related outcomes (Tables 3.2 and 3.3). Examples of participating in the safety program include instructing new employees on safety procedures, using correct safety actions or work practices, and using equipment and PPE safely. For both formal and informal programs, DOTs generally have had them in place for more than 10 years (52%), and nearly 75% of respondents have had programs for more than 3 years (Figure 3.5). The PennDOT case example provides a detailed description of a state DOT with a formal safety incentive or disincentive program, along with references to their written procedures for that program. California and Texas noted formalized disincentive and disciplinary action pro- grams, but both noted a preferred focus on incentives to promote safe behaviors. Types of informal safety incentive or disincentive programs (i.e., non-policy, non-metric driven): • There were more DOTs (45%) with an informal safety incentive or disincentive program (Figure 3.3). However, less than half of surveyed DOTs have either a formal or informal safety incentive or disincentive program. Informal incentives and disincentives were mostly asso- ciated with instructing new employees on safety procedures or obtaining safety goals or objec- tives individually or as a crew (Table 3.2). Types and frequency of incentives used: • DOTs have a variety of incentives and disincentives that have been utilized to motivate safe behaviors (Table 3.6). The most frequently used disincentives were corrective action through verbal communication (31 out of 36 DOT respondents to that question) and dis- ciplinary actions (34 out of 38 DOT respondents), and both were most frequently used on C H A P T E R   5 Summary of Findings

Summary of Findings 45   an as-needed basis (81% and 76%, respectively). The most frequently used incentives were recognition/appreciation through verbal communication (34 out of 38 DOT respondents) and recognition/appreciation through written communication (27 out of 35 DOT respon- dents), and both were most frequently used on an as-needed basis (68% and 69%, respectively). The most frequently used incentives with a direct cost component were prizes (e.g., hats, plaques, trophies, apparel, and event tickets), which were used by 25 out of 38 DOT respondents. Those prizes were most often awarded annually (13 DOTs) or as needed (12 DOTs). Other safety motivational approaches: • Several other safety motivational approaches are used by DOTs other than incentives and disincentives (Figure 3.9). Most frequently noted (94%) was safety training. Other approaches noted were safety reminders (83%), safety awareness/hazard recognition training (78%), leadership training (67%), and safety stand-downs (56%). Less than half of respondents noted using safety accountability programs (44%) and good catch programs (17%). Implementation strategies: • DOTs have a variety of strategies to successfully implement their formal or informal safety incentive and disincentive programs (Figure 3.11). The most frequently used implementation strategy is to engage employees in the implementation itself (85%). Using employee sug- gestions or other feedback mechanisms was also a frequently noted approach (74%). Other implementation strategies lightly used according to survey respondents were communication plans/advertisement of the program (41%), dedicated staff to manage the program (38%), pilot program in region or district (35%), formation of oversight team (15%), and collective bargaining (12%). The case examples emphasized this finding. All the state DOT interviews cited the importance of employee feedback to achieve employee buy-in and the importance of executive leadership support and buy-in for the success of the overall safety program. Program success and how success is measured: • As with any implemented program, it becomes valuable to understand its desired impact. While the DOTs participating in the case examples (Chapter 4) noted that formal evaluations are not conducted to directly tie incentive programs to outcomes, anecdotal observations were made. According to survey respondents in Figure 3.10, they most frequently look at an analysis of performance metrics (e.g., OSHA recordable incident rate) (64%) and an analysis of workers’ compensation claims (64%). Funding for incentive programs: • Safety incentive program funding is a unique challenge for public agencies like DOTs. The survey results (Chapter 3) and case example interviews (Chapter 4) indicate that the issue of funding is critical. The sources of funding for incentive programs are inconsistent in the survey results (Figure 3.7), with discretionary funds receiving the most responses (36%), followed by other sources (32%), state or highway funds (26%), a combination of state and federal sources (13%), and federal funds (3%). With that, most DOTs (52%) noted restrictions on those fund sources (Figure 3.8). Thirty-nine percent were unsure if there were restric- tions on their funds. Several case examples, including California, Mississippi, and Texas, note that while funding incentives is challenging, small gestures of recognition (e.g., hats, PPE, stickers) can be low to no cost and still effective. Verbal recognition of safe behaviors was also noted as being valuable to employees. Funding was noted as a challenge, but creative solutions were also suggested with documented examples within the cases. Manager and supervisor/foreperson engagement: • Any safety program that seeks participation throughout the agency would need engagement from management. Table 3.7 provides results on the degree of involvement of different levels of

46 Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews management, from first-line supervisors up to the executive level of the DOTs. First-line super- visors are typically involved on a day-to-day basis (32%) or at the time of a safety incident (25%). Second-line supervisors mostly have a regular frequency involvement (e.g., weekly, monthly, or quarterly) but not day-to-day (24%). District/regional managers also are mostly involved on a regular but not daily frequency (26%) but also are often involved in attending award ceremonies (25%). Central office program managers and executives typically participate in award ceremonies (30%). This summarizes the most frequently noted involvement of each level of the agency in the survey. However, it is important to note that all levels of the agency were noted to be involved in most of the response options (see Table 3.7). Program training requirements: • Of the DOTs with either a formal or informal safety incentive or disincentive program, most (61%) have training requirements for their respective programs (Figure 3.4). The case example interviews in Chapter 4 enlightened this finding by noting that understanding the safety incentive or disincentive is important for its success. Mississippi noted informal approaches to educating and training regarding their incentive programs, while PennDOT manages their program centrally, and therefore training regarding evaluators of the program is internal to the office managing safety. DOTs interviewed for the case examples agree that employees need to understand how incentives can be earned, what data needs to be collected, and exactly what and when incentives can be distributed. This can be a standalone training or modules of other safety training. Written DOT program policies and procedures: • Seven DOTs uploaded their written program policies and procedures (Appendix D). Some policies outline the scoring systems used to earn incentives, while others provide definitions, eligibility, and criteria for their incentive programs. Challenges for implementation: • There were several implementation challenges noted by survey respondents in Figure 3.12. The most frequently noted challenges were lack of employee buy-in (59%) and other duties/ programs having higher priority (53%). Others were all below 50% with a lack of funding (44%), lack of staffing support for the program (38%), lack of perceived benefit (35%), dif- ficulty administering regularly and fairly (35%), lack of executive/leadership support (32%), poor morale (29%), lack of time to implement the program (24%), and declining program momentum (15%) as the other reasons. Research Needs This study identified a few gaps warranting further investigation. First, there is a need for improved understanding of the benefits and success measures associated with using safety incentive and disincentive programs. There are anecdotal benefits observed and incident rates referenced, but the direct impact of safety incentive and disincentive programs is still unclear. Previous studies noted in the literature review also had mixed results. Identifying benefits can assist occupational safety and health leaders in DOTs in championing safety incentive programs within their respective agencies. Another gap was noticed in the funding mechanisms used by DOTs to support the safety incentive program. One DOT in the case examples noted legislative approval to set aside top-line budget figures for safety incentives, but most DOTs seem to have creative solutions to fund the program. There are still significant restrictions on incentive distributions for DOTs compared to the private sector. Thus, if real benefits exist, exploring funding mechanisms is warranted.

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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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