According to OSHA, the number of worker deaths and injuries has decreased by over 60% since the organization’s creation in 1971. This sounds like a resounding success, right? Unfortunately, despite the improvements to worker health and safety that have been made by OSHA, over 5,000 people still die at work every year, with another 3.6 million people suffering a severe work-related injury.
To combat the steady number of workplace injuries and illnesses, OSHA recommends that businesses implement a safety and health program to complement the existing regulations to keep their employees safe and promote a culture of safety excellence.
Implementing a safety and health program is no simple task, but it has many benefits. In addition to helping reduce the number of workplace injuries and illnesses, this type of program can provide five key advantages.
1. Improved Hazard Awareness
One key component of a safety and health program is a “find and fix” approach to workplace hazards. This allows employers to coach their teams on how to identify hazards that they may not have recognized otherwise. This can lead to a heightened level of hazard awareness in both the workplace and at home.
The “find and fix” mentality also allows employers to establish their appetite for risk and demonstrate their commitment to safety. When employees raise concerns over a hazard that has been identified, it gives the employer an opportunity to move swiftly to correct the issue and improve the safety of the operation.
2. Increased Employee Engagement
Establishing a program that emphasizes the importance of personnel health and safety shows workers that their employer cares about them and their well-being. But the benefits of employee engagement go above and beyond that.
Developing and implementing a successful health and safety program requires full participation, and when a company decides to start on their safety excellence journey, they create many opportunities for employees to get involved and add value. From getting buy-in on written safety and health programs, to getting boots on the ground in safety inspections, a successful health and safety program incorporates employees at every level and every department within an organization.
Having their voices heard and their contributions acknowledged allows employees to feel valued and can increase engagement.
3. Social and Corporate Responsibility
In the past, when it came to news stories about workplace safety, often the negative stories were more common – specifically, when an accident or death had occurred. While featured stories on companies with successful health and safety programs have been rare, they are gaining popularity.
Consumers are becoming increasingly socially conscious. A 2019 survey found that 46% of consumers pay attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when making a purchase.
4. Increased Profit Margin
The exciting news is that having a successful health and safety program can nearly pay for itself. The average cost of a workers’ compensation claim is $40,000. And that is just the direct cost. Indirect costs such as increased workers compensation, insurance premiums and lost productivity often add up to about four to six times as much as the direct cost related to the injury. That $40,000 injury soon becomes a potential loss of nearly a quarter of a million dollars!
Implementing a health and safety program can help reduce these costs by preventing injuries and illnesses altogether or reducing the potential severity of the injury.
5. Regulatory Compliance
Did you know that OSHA can issue criminal penalties in cases of extreme negligence on the part of the employer in the event of an employee injury or death? A plant operations director and a plant safety manager at a facility in California faced three felony counts of OSHA violations and up to three years in prison after a worker died in a confined space. These kinds of incidents are completely preventable.
Implementing a health and safety program can help ensure that your company follows applicable OSHA regulations to help prevent injuries and deaths and reduce the risk of penalties.