April 1, 2012

The health and safety game

Landscape crews start each day playing bingo


“Health and safety is a boring subject, and it was difficult to keep staff motivated,” says Mark Humphries, owner of Humphries Landscape Services and Direct Landscape Supply in Oshawa, Ont. Recognizing the need for health and safety training, Humphries struggled with ways to engage his crews in conversations about workplace safety.

During a trip to the ANLA Management Clinic in Louisville, Ky., Humphries heard speakers discuss incentive programs using gift cards, and playing games to stimulate staff interest in safety, and he came up with the idea of Workplace Safety Bingo.

“I bought a couple of dabbers and an inexpensive bingo game that comes with a deck of bingo cards and the playing sheets. Each crew member gets a sheet with his name on it. Each day at Humphries Landscape Services begins at 7 a.m. on the dot, with a five-minute safety discussion. Whenever possible, safety talks are tailored to the crew’s work. “If we are renting a new piece of equipment, or working with rarely-used machinery or a unique task such as working with heights that day, the chat is geared to the work that day,” explains Humphries.

“After the chat, we pose a question related to the talk. The group as a whole has to get the right answer quickly and succinctly. If, as a group, they come up with a correct answer, we draw a bingo number and employees mark their cards.”

Humphries says the entire talk and game takes 10 minutes. Crews are on the road between 7:15 and 7:30.

The company offers several levels of prizes. One line in any direction earns the choice of a $10-value reward, including a Tim Horton’s card, lottery scratch card, movie tickets or an HMV voucher.

Diagonal line wins yield $20 rewards, including Best Buy gift certificates, Direct Landscape Supply bonus bucks, HMV gift certificates or a BBQ for you and your crew at the company’s offices.

Box-around wins can bring a Saturday off of the employee’s choice, Direct Landscape Supply bonus bucks,  a Best Buy gift certificate, Mark’s Work Warehouse voucher or a certificate for a dinner for two, all valued at $50.

The letter H (for Humphries) wins a reward of approximately $300 value, including a day off with pay, Best Buy gift certificate, fishing trip on Lake Ontario for up to three people or an hour-long flight at the local flight school.

Idea works over time
Game rules have gradually evolved. Humphries’ initial idea was that new cards would be handed out on the first of the month, but he found that if the prize was won before month’s end, interest in his safety talks waned. Now, as soon as a game is finished, new cards are handed out the next day.

Some of the game rules penalize individual crew members, while some safety infractions affect a complete crew or the entire company. Members of Humphries Landscape Services look out for one another (see examples below), to keep the game going from day to day. If a crew member comes in late, he cannot play and an X is put through the number on his sheet if it’s called.

“As a business owner, I have to wear many hats, and be prepared to make sophisticated presentations to corporations in one breath, and offer training to my ground-level staff in the next. Using a tool like Workplace Safety Bingo is a great way to connect with all my staff and get them engaged, working together and looking out for each other.”

Humphries says playing Workplace Safety Bingo has captured the attention of all his crew members. Even the seasoned veterans, “still make sure they get their bingo card stamped if their number is drawn.”