The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 53-02 [New]

Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/30/2021 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Leslie C. Harwood
Fiscal Year: 2022

Preliminary Scope

Highway construction and maintenance is a uniquely hazardous industry. In 2019, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) incident data reported the recordable injury rate was 21% higher for highway construction and maintenance than for general construction. Safety programs and policies have been created to seek improvement in safety performance. A common strategy to improve safety outcomes is the use of incentives and disincentives to motivate workers to perform safe behaviors. OSHA states that “incentive programs can be an important tool to promote workplace safety and health.” Examples of such incentive programs include rewarding workers for reporting near-misses or hazards and encouraging the use of safety committees. Conversely, disincentive strategies can be used to discourage unsafe behaviors such as disciplinary actions for unsafe behaviors. Most safety incentive programs are either injury/illness/incident-based or behavior-based incentive programs. The former received some restrictions and clarification from OSHA stating that injury/illness/incident-based are allowable assuming there are no ramifications for reporting incidents. A recent study found that safety incentive programs have been effective at reducing experience modification ratings; lost-time workday incidents; and days away, job restrictions, or transfers. The same study also found that workers have a positive perception of safety incentive programs and believe they do improve safety outcomes.

The private construction sector has deployed incentive and disincentive programs with regularity. However, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have unique limitations on their abilities to financially incentivize safe actions or use corrective actions as disincentives for unsafe actions. While difficult, some state DOTs have found unique approaches to institute incentives, such as office-based grants, awards, and more.

The objective of this synthesis is to document state DOT practices regarding safety incentive and disincentive programs for highway construction and maintenance crews, related motivational techniques, and written policies or training to implement these programs.

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):
• Formal safety incentive or disincentive programs;
• Informal safety incentive or disincentive programs;
• Other safety motivational approaches;
• Strategies for implementation;
• Training requirements; and
• Program policies and procedures.

Information will be collected through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• Al-Shabbani, Z., Ammar, A., Nassereddine, H., and Dadi, G. B. (2021). Development, Implementation, and Tracking of Preventative Safety Metrics. Research Report KTC-21-10/SPR19-568. Kentucky Transportation Center, Lexington, KY.
• Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices. United States De-partment of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/whistleblowermemo.html
• Goodrum, P. M., and Gangwar, M. (2004). Safety Incentives: A Study of Their Effec-tiveness in Construction. Professional Safety.
• Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

TRB Staff
Leslie Harwood
Phone: 202-334-2312
Email: lharwood@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: TBD
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: TBD

Topic Panel

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