Every day workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities not only cause immeasurable pain and suffering to employees and their families but also cost organizations billions of dollars per year in wasteful and often preventable expenses. Liberty Mutual’s 2012 Workplace Safety Index indicates that the most serious disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010 amounted to $51.1 billion in direct US workers’ compensation costs alone.* The human toll and indirect costs are essentially incalculable.
The implementation of effective safety and health management programs has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of accidents, illness, injuries and fatalities by ensuring that hazards in the workplace are eliminated or controlled in a systematic manner. Organizations that have established safety and health programs report not only significant decreases in workplace incidents but also many additional benefits, both expected and unanticipated, that more than cover the cost of program implementation, including:
- A measurable reduction in the direct costs associated with illness, injuries and fatalities, such as medical expenses, workers’ compensation payments and increased premiums, additional insurance claims and lost time on the job.
- Lower indirect costs, including training and compensation for replacement workers, repair of damaged property, accident investigation and implementation of corrective action, schedule delays and additional administrative time.
- Compliance with OSHA regulations and reduced risk of worker complaints, failed inspections and potential fines associated with noncompliance.
- A more positive workplace culture and improved employee morale due to the enhancement of workplace safety and health, resulting in higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover and greater worker satisfaction.
- Improved perceptions and reputation among customers, business partners and investors as a result of a proactive approach to the safety and health of employees.
Establishing safety and health programs to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses is not only the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in safety and health, employers can expect up to six times return on their investment. Safety and health management planning is good for workers and good for business.
*The annual Workplace Safety Index identifies the leading causes of serious non-fatal workplace injuries based on information from Liberty Mutual workers compensation insurance claims, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Using injury-event definitions developed by the BLS, researchers collect data about injuries that cause an employee to miss six or more days from work, and rank those injuries according to total workers compensation costs. The latest Workplace Safety Index provides statistics for injuries that occurred in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.
The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers an Introduction to Safety and Health Management course designed for the small employer, business owner or manager designated with the responsibility to develop and manage a firm’s safety and health program or system. This introductory course addresses the four core elements of an effective safety and health program with strategies & techniques that are critical to each element’s proper management.