What is the cost of safety in the workplace? Well, it depends on who you ask, what industry they are in, what position they have in a company, or where are you geographically and demographically. Is a company proactive in nature or reactive? Do they have a health and safety management system in place, train their workers, supply personal protective equipment when needed, and assess hazards? Or do they see this as an expense and just hope for the best?
Safety is a part of business and life, the cost associated with it is up to you.
From a legislative standpoint no matter where you are we say safety is written in blood. Luckily we started to care about the well-being of people in our workforces and stopped treating people like they are disposable. We are far from perfect but we are on the right track. When you read through the occupational health and safety regulations every code or rule has been written because someone somewhere got seriously injured or lost their life. So rules were written for companies to follow at a minimum to prevent this.
Besides the human cost of an injury or incident to a worker, most people do not think of the cost fully associated with an injury or incident. You need to look at both the direct costs and indirect costs that will affect you or your company. Direct costs are usually easy to point out, things like medical bills, lost wages for the worker, or damaged equipment. Indirect costs can often be overseen but cost just as much or more. These can consist of but are not limited to:
-Wage costs related to work or production stoppages
-Time spent by administrators, supervisors, safety personnel, and many others who have to handle the claim
-Cost of hiring and training a replacement worker
-Lost productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and accommodating the injured employee
-The cost to clean up, repair, and replace equipment and machinery that may have been damaged
-The cost of company insurance premiums going up
-The loss of work bidding is related to poor safety statistics for clients.
This is a lot to consider when calculating the costs of an injury. A report from Canada.ca estimates in 2010 there was a total economic burden of 26.8 billion dollars spent on injuries associated with health care expenditures, hospitalization, lack of productivity, disability, and premature death! Now take that number and times it by 10 in the U.S.
When we look at the upfront cost of safety, it is nothing compared to what could be if something happens. A few dollars invested per employee per month on things like training programs, policy development, PPE, and safer work process, could save you tenfold in the future. Don’t add to the statistics and keep your workplace safe and your operations going.
You can find more details in the Parachute report on the cost of injury in Canada, or if you are brave punch it into google and read for days!