september 1989

If you're a growing manufacturer, you're probably fighting a steady increase in your accident and injury rates. Phillip Mayer, president of Luitink Manufacturing Co., a metal stamper in Menomonee Falls, Wis., has a technique that dramatically reduces those costs. Measures such as posters and safety tours, he found, didn't do much good.

Then the company's safety committee hit on the idea of a lottery-style contest. Tickets are given every month to workers with no accidents. Ticket holders are then eligible for a jackpot, awarded every three months, which starts at $250 and is reduced by $50 for every mishap. At the end of the year, depending on the total number of company accidents, employees may be eligible to win two $1,000 prizes (0 to 3 accidents companywide), one $1,000 prize (3 to 5 accidents), one $750 prize (5 to 8 accidents), one $500 prize (8 to 10 accidents), or one $250 prize (up to 12 accidents). No prize is awarded if more than 12 accidents occur. In 1988 there were 4 accidents -- compared with 20 in 1987.

If the accident rate stays low for the next two years, Mayer estimates that the company, which posted sales of about $6 million last year, could save as much as $40,000 in insurance premiums. "We've learned we could not buy safety," he says, "but we could buy awareness."