Why Should You Care About Safety?

· by Bill Oeffinger

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Safety is something that most businesses talk about on a regular basis. But after seven years managing risk and safety, with twenty years of experience in industrial environments, I’ve noticed putting action behind those safety talks is rarely a priority.

Often “safety” is just a buzz word that production or sales trump in the end. In some cases, management may even be in denial or entirely unaware of the lack of safety in their company. I want to be clear that while this happens often, it’s not the case for all businesses as most managers don’t want to see an employee harmed in the work place. Remember and understand that the primary function of all businesses is to make money. The “buzz word” issues stem from most leaders not recognizing the impact, both direct and indirect, that safety can have on the overall health of the business.

So, why should you care about safety?

It’s the right thing to do.

Most employers understand that employees are the most valuable asset that they have. It benefits the business financially, operationally, and from a public relations stand point when the business protects this asset.

The impact that safety has financially on the business are easily identifiable with measurable components such as:

  1. Workers’ compensation insurance cost
  2. The cost of fines from regulatory agencies.

However, there are indirect costs that are often overlooked and harder to measure too, such as:

  1. Management’s time spent investigating an incident
  2. Lost production time
  3. Employee turnover
  4. Overtime
  5. Training costs
  6. and many more indirect examples that aren’t clearly visible on a business’s financial statements.

Operational issues often also have an indirect cost component as mentioned previously in addition to being disruptive.

Time spent by management investigating an incident has an opportunity cost associated with it as well – think what the leaders could be working on.

Lost production time, overtime, employee turnover, possible equipment downtime, and poor employee morale are all examples effecting a business’s operations.

All these issues could also have an impact on the business’s product quality which causes even more issues.

Public relations are also affected by poor safety performance.

If your business is not safe, the community will know about it. Current employees, former employees, and injured employees will talk about it. At the very least this negative perception in the community will prevent good quality, potential employees from considering work at the business. At worst the poor perception in the community could cause a potential client to consider not purchasing the business’ goods or services. Poor safety performance could also have a broader reach affecting the total brand image of the business.

An injury that never occurs is less expensive than an injury that does. A safe business attracts good employees and keeps them. A safe business will be more operationally efficient and profitable. It’s a good business decision. Is safety more than just a “buzz word” at your business?