Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 53-02. Practices to Motivate Safe Behaviors with Highway Construction and Maintenance Crews

Highway construction and maintenance is a uniquely hazardous industry. In 2019, OSHA incident data reported the recordable injury rate was 21% higher for highway construction and maintenance than 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 encourage 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 ability to financially incentivize safe actions or use corrective actions to disincentivize unsafe actions. While difficult, some DOTs have found unique approaches to institute incentives, such as monetary awards, certificates, work crew awards, lunches, and more. The 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.


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  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 53-02

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Gause, Jo

  • Performing Organizations:

    Blue Hardhat Consulting LLC

    Lexington, KY   
  • Principal Investigators:

    Dadi, Gabe

  • Start Date: 20220223
  • Expected Completion Date: 20230215
  • Actual Completion Date: 20230215

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01771607
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 53-02
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 18 2021 8:04PM