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Recognizing Safety Champions: Awarding Outstanding Safety Performance

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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Building a culture of health and safety within your company is important not just to keep employees safe, but to keep them engaged. Safety programs are one tool commonly used to formalize a culture of health and safety and to create opportunities for peer leadership by naming safety champions. Safety champions are employees who are not just responsible for their own safety but become peer leaders to promote health and safety across your workforce.  

Since this is an opportunity to elevate top performers, it is important to reward safety champions and create safety recognition in a systematic and effective way. In this blog we will discuss the importance of a safety-first culture, how to reward safety champions, and how to use safety programming to engage all employees.  

Building a safety-first culture  

Ensuring safety for all employees should be a core tenant of how your company operates and how you build camaraderie and engagement among employees. Whether you are running a business where employees use heavy equipment or you are in an office where you want to be sure there is a culture free of harassment, a focus on safety is paramount.  

While safety programs can often feel like top-down initiatives, motivating employees to take responsibility for their own workplace safety and those of their peers is an effective way to drive peer leadership and engagement. This is also a strong tactic to connect employees to the company and its mission in a personal way, with individual and collective safety at the heart of everything both individuals and the whole organization accomplishes.  

Identifying safety champions is a foundational step toward peer-to-peer motivation in safety programs. These peer safety captains drive the safety program forward, encourage engagement from all employees and can even nominate or give out safety recognition awards to peers. Safety champions should be non-management peer leadership positions, where they can motivate employees from within their own ranks and drive a culture of safety across a team, department, or the whole company.  

Who is a safety champion?  

You might be thinking to yourself, who should these safety champions be? What is their profile? And how can you create a repeatable, scalable pipeline of these important peer leaders? Identifying safety champions should be done carefully and should be reserved for high-performing employees who may not be quite ready for a promotion but are looking to take on extra responsibility.  

Safety champion candidates should be similar in profile to people who you might identify for a leadership training program. These champions provide a leadership pipeline and engage high performers in a special program that benefits the organization and the individual. Benefits to these programs often include opportunities to access management and executives, provide feedback, and to qualify for safety rewards specific to their leadership and peer engagement. Companies should always fill safety champion positions based on performance rather than favoritism.  

From a peer perspective, safety champions should be someone that people want to follow and genuinely enjoy being around and being motivated by. They should feel genuine to peers, and not a conduit for management. This will help cultivate true employee engagement and success for safety programming.  

Safety Champion Responsibilities 

Safety champions play a crucial role in promoting a culture of health and safety within the workplace. Here are the key duties and responsibilities of safety champions: 

  1. Promoting Safety Awareness: Safety champions actively promote safety awareness among their peers by consistently adhering to safety protocols and encouraging others to do the same. 
  2. Leading by Example: They serve as role models by demonstrating exemplary safety practices in their daily work activities, inspiring others to follow suit. 
  3. Encouraging Engagement: Safety champions encourage engagement from all employees in safety programs and initiatives, fostering a collective commitment to workplace safety. 
  4. Nominating Peers for Recognition: They have the authority to nominate peers for safety awards based on their outstanding safety performance and commitment. 
  5. Motivating Team Members: Safety champions motivate their team members to actively participate in safety-related activities and initiatives, creating a positive safety culture throughout the organization. 
  6. Providing Feedback: They provide constructive feedback to management regarding safety policies, procedures, and potential hazards identified in the workplace. 
  7. Driving Continuous Improvement: Safety champions actively contribute to the improvement of safety programs by identifying areas for enhancement and suggesting innovative solutions. 
  8. Acting as Safety Advocates: They act as advocates for safety within their respective teams, departments, or the entire organization, emphasizing the importance of safety in all aspects of work. 
  9. Participating in Training: Safety champions participate in specialized safety training programs to enhance their knowledge and skills in promoting workplace safety. 
  10. Supporting Safety Initiatives: They actively support the implementation of safety initiatives and programs, ensuring their successful integration into daily work practices. 

Safety champions serve as peer leaders who are dedicated to fostering a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, contributing significantly to the overall success of safety programs within the organization. 

How to reward a safety champion  

Rewarding volunteer peer leaders needs to be focused on driving value for the recipients. Since these peer leaders are not getting paid extra wages for their extra effort, it is important that the rewards are flexible, timely and valuable to every safety champion.  

Providing public safety recognition not only motivates the champions, but it exemplifies high-performing behavior for all employees and shows the whole workforce that hard work does get rewarded.  

The Engage2Reward™ Choice Card makes an ideal safety reward. Redeemable for over 250 eGift card brands on the platform, the Engage2Reward Choice Card offers complete flexibility for recipients to redeem rewards wherever they find the most value. Especially if you have a diverse set of safety champions across your organization, the Engage2Reward Choice Card is a wonderfully streamlined and meaningful way to reward all your safety champions. 


Rewarding Safety Champions with Gift Cards 

Safety program managers can effectively reward and incentivize workplace safety champions using the Engage2Reward™ Gift Card Ordering Platform. Here's how: 

  1. Customized Rewards: Safety program managers can use the Engage2Reward Platform to order gift cards tailored to the preferences of safety champions. These gift cards can be personalized with messages of appreciation for their dedication to workplace safety. 
  2. Flexible Reward Options: The platform offers a wide range of gift card options from over 300 brands, allowing safety champions to choose rewards that suit their individual preferences. Whether it's dining, shopping, or entertainment, safety champions can select rewards that resonate with them, enhancing the value of the recognition. 
  3. Streamlined Ordering Process: The Engage2Reward Platform provides a user-friendly interface for ordering gift cards, making the reward process efficient and hassle-free for safety program managers. They can easily select the desired gift card denominations, quantity, and delivery options to ensure a seamless experience for safety champions. 
  4. Timely Recognition: With the Engage2Reward Platform, safety program managers can quickly reward safety champions for their outstanding performance in promoting workplace safety. Whether it's a monthly recognition program or spontaneous appreciation, the platform enables timely acknowledgment of their contributions. 
  5. Data Insights: The platform provides valuable insights into gift card orders, allowing safety program managers to track the impact of their recognition efforts. They can analyze trends, preferences, and engagement levels to optimize future reward strategies and maximize the effectiveness of their safety programs. 

By leveraging the Engage2Reward Platform, safety program managers can effectively recognize and incentivize workplace safety champions, fostering a culture of safety and engagement across the organization.


Safety programs to drive employee engagement  

Safety programs can often seem separate from traditional employee engagement programs, but in fact they are a fantastic way to drive employee engagement around a shared purpose. Safety programs build connections both between employees and between employees and the organization. Creating these types of connections can serve as a foundation to company culture and a broader engagement strategy.  

Safety champions are a key component to driving universal employee engagement as they lead programmatic efforts across the organization.  


Safety champions are a key component to safety programming, which can drive employee engagement for your whole staff. Ensure that safety champions are identified through a performance-based merit system and are rewarded as part of a safety recognition component to your program. By doing so, you can keep these peer leaders motivated and focused on their critical role in a broader employee engagement strategy.  

Ready to reward and incentivize your workplace safety champions? Learn how you can incorporate the Engage2Reward Platform into your safety rewards today. 


Topics: Safety Incentives, National Safety Month

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