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Injuries and accidents are bad for business.
Consider the consequences. First, operating costs immediately increase. Added expenses might come directly from adjustments to workers compensation rates or arrive in the form of regulatory fines levied by outside agencies. In addition, how much product was destroyed? What are the charges for repairs to the equipment and how long will operations be delayed?

Other costs come indirectly via lower productivity; injuries and accidents devastate employee morale, impacting both pace and quality of work. Suddenly, a machine or process that was instrumental to achieving manufacturing goals is deemed untrustworthy. Workers second guess themselves, slowing production. Often, additional injuries occur in the weeks following an incident as a result of knee-jerk policy adjustments or changes to worker behavior.

And the added supervision that is put into place to monitor employee behavior? That comes with a price tag as well, just like the administrative efforts required to process the voluminous paperwork that accompanies an incident. With victims at home recuperating, the options are to train new hires for replacement or pay overtime to existing employees.

Current estimates claim that for every dollar of direct expense stemming from a significant worker injury, anticipate up to four dollars in indirect expenses.

In addition to weaker production, your corporate reputation almost always takes a hit in proportion to the severity of the accident. It is nearly impossible to calculate the impact of negative press coverage, but anticipate at least some difficulty retaining employees and hiring talent as candidates reconsider the company’s commitment to keeping them safe. In the worst case scenario, a single accident can produce a dysfunctional culture where everyone points the finger at each other, and the entire work environment implodes.

If there were only a way to reduce the risk.
Safety professionals recognize there is, and the good news is that employers who invest in active, identifiable EHS programs consistently record the highest levels of employee satisfaction and engagement. Pride translates into commitment, and a cycle of trust is created where workers are more likely to abide by EHS rules because they acknowledge and appreciate management’s efforts to keep them and the environment safe. Employees, in other words, understand when time and money is devoted to protecting what matters and will support even the most complex EHS processes as long as the message remains genuine.

Safety programs that fail to instill a sense of commitment (non-enforced rules, bypassed safety devices, missing PPE, etc.) communicate a failed sense of value to workers. In response, those who feel taken for granted ignore sporadic EHS efforts. Workers interpret such inconsistent messaging as policy designed to protect corporate liability, not them. This dynamic explains why so many accidents have shared responsibility; a failure in safety policy intersects with an individual’s lack of awareness to result in injury.   

Why does it matter if workers recognize their employer’s commitment to health and safety? Never forget that security is one of human beings’ most basic needs and an essential requirement of happiness. In terms of ROI, research studies conclude that employees who categorize themselves as being happy at work are somewhere between 12% and 20% more productive than their counterparts. These individuals accomplish a higher standard of work without injuries. The result is higher profits, from both superior productivity as well as fewer costs associated with accidents.

So, an investment in EHS programs is more than a preventative strategy. Done right it gives your employees a reason to work harder. For more information regarding safety and compliance, please contact me at
(919) 459-5252 or jpoole@ei1.com.