Seven years ago, management at Plath and Co., a large San Francisco remodeling firm, came up with a way to encourage safe practices and in turn cut their workers' comp costs. They began rewarding field crews for safety with U.S. Savings Bonds.
The system works like this: For every quarter without a jobsite injury, field personnel are given a $25, $50, or $100 bond. The bonds are included in their pay envelopes. Workers are issued a total of $200 worth of bonds in a year, which costs Plath and Co. $100.
Plath and Co. pays a lot of attention to safety. The company holds bi-weekly meetings to discuss specific issues like scaffolding, goggles, or CPR. On large jobs -- such as a custom home -- the company will assign an employee to do nothing but clean up. "People do a better job in a clean environment," vice president Bill Ballas says. "They work better, and it's safer." Plath and Co. averaged between three and four on-site injuries per year before instituting the program and now averages between one and two. Over the years, Ballas says, the program has more than paid for itself in reduced workers' comp costs.