Whatever the outside pressure and regulatory requirements,
or lack thereof, there is one reality that should always spur
your interest in prioritizing safety: accidents are expensive,
and their negative effects reverberate.
What Safety Lapses Really Cost
There are the obvious hard costs involved with
accidents such as increased insurance premiums, workers’
compensation and medical bills. Consider this sobering
statistic: on average, the total cost of a laceration amounts
to $41,000. That’s just a common cut.
More serious injuries will not only cost more, but
may require ongoing physical or occupational therapy
and medication, which keeps the bills rolling in. Serious
accidents — especially if fatalities are involved — may call
for you to supply post-trauma therapy to witnesses or those
otherwise involved in the incident.
There are less tangible, but no less costly, expenses
such as disruption of workflow, lowered employee morale
(seeing someone get hurt or killed is distressing) and
hiring temporary or permanent replacement workers. Your
employees are one of your greatest investments and also
one of your greatest expenses.
Your workers possess training and knowhow —
experience you have paid for — which is key to an efficient
and productive workforce. An injured employee takes their
value with them while you pay for their care and time away
from work, as well as train someone new to get them up to
speed and pay that person to do the job left vacant. There
will also be strain on other employees who have to pick up
the slack of this inefficiency. What a loss.
Accidents don’t just involve people. Your equipment or
facilities may also be damaged or ruined. Such wreckage
can amount to huge financial burdens and total work
cessation while fixes are made.
If the company is at fault for an accident, there may
be those OSHA fines and employee lawsuits to contend
with, causing ongoing headaches and costing thousands.
Additionally, you may experience increased scrutiny by
safety inspectors, which is not only disruptive and stressful,
but a time-suck. More valuable resources squandered.
Then there’s the bad press and reputation to contend
with, and public relations agencies don’t come cheap.
Even with OSHA publicly reporting less information
about accidents and fatalities, word gets around when
people get hurt, especially if it’s the result of careless and
Worker communities can be small and tight-knit. If
your company has a bad reputation, the more qualified,
experienced and harder-working employees you seek will
likely look elsewhere. Valuable workers prefer a workplace
where they’re valued.
There are watchful journalists and whistleblowers
who focus on exposing when workers’ rights to safety
are violated. Powerful among them is the Center for
Investigative Reporting (CIR) and its Reveal podcasts
and website. Among CIR’s worker safety — focused
investigations is the “Contract with Danger” series,
which uncovers the numerous safety violations at
shipbuilding yards in the U.S., causing widespread
Safety Managed Well Profits More
The counter-weighing benefits to creating a strong safety
culture in your workplace are many and great. Imagine
creating a workplace that’s a model of worker safety. Every
aspect will contribute to boosting your bottom line. Not
only will you not be losing money to non-productive safety
incidents, you’ll be optimizing productivity by having a
more loyal, healthier and more effective workforce. Further,
employees who aren’t coping with the stress and trauma
of experiencing injury or seeing their co-workers hurt can
focus instead on their job.
Cared-for employees are more alert, clear-headed and
energetic. Healthy, happy employees also don’t miss
as much work and are more likely to stay with the job;
that means less of that disruptive and expensive task and
replacing people (your HR department will thank you).
A healthy team environment — a key aspect of a safe
environment — results in employees looking out for each
other and holding each other accountable. This all adds up
to strengthening your profitability.
Not having to handle lawsuits and frequent visits from
OSHA inspectors contributes to a more positive and less
stressful management environment. Well-maintained
equipment and facilities work better, contributing to overall
It makes savvy business sense to do everything possible
to prevent lapses in safety. When you don’t just make the
grade, but instead create an exceptionally safe working
environment, it does more than just keep costs at bay — it’s
a boon to business.