Whether you’re oblivious to it or not, there’s no doubt about the importance of workplace safety. The numbers simply don’t lie, workplace safety is no joke.
Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they never recover…
Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis
Solis made this statement in Los Angeles, during her speech on “Workers Memorial Day,” in 2012. A day in which those who have lost their lives while doing there job are honored.
It’s still hard to believe that in 2010 alone, OSHA reported 4,690 workers that were killed on the job. In the same year, the Department of Labor showed that nearly 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in the private sector alone. Even with all the awareness and information available, occupational safety is still an epidemic that haunts the American worker.
OSHA has gone to great lengths to protect employees since its inception in 1971. Before OSHA, employees had essentially no rights if they were hurt on the job and not much was ever done to prevent further actions from happening. Those that were hurt were often put on an island with little they could do to escape.
Today’s a Different Story
The initiatives and awareness that OSHA has created have had a significant impact on workplace safety. Since OSHA’s creation, workplace deaths are down 65 percent and job-related injuries are down 67 percent.
Now employees have rights and are backed by laws, thanks in most part to OSHA. A major part of preventative actions is holding those responsible accountable. If employers neglect their responsibilities towards their worker’s safety, they can be punished both financially and criminally for not taking safety serious.
OSHA’s recent partnering looks to do even more. They have teamed up with NIOSH and the National Occupational Research Agenda program to educate construction workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. The partnership is an effort to bring together government, labor, management, trade associations, faith groups and leaders of academia to develop framework for innovative workplace safety practices.
Why is Safety More Important Than Ever?
A major myth in promoting occupational safety is the costs outweigh the benefits of a safety first mentality. Sorry, but the correlation between a commitment to safety and higher profit margins is a proven reality. When safety improves, productivity, quality and efficiency all improve along with it. When you can incorporate safety into your work culture you will have fewer injuries and less business interruption, creating a more efficient environment for your workforce to perform in.
Still not convinced?
OSHA has estimated that a successful safety management system will save U.S. businesses between $9 and $23 billion in annual workers’ compensation claims, which will only go up as our cost of medical care increases. Also, Liberty Mutual claims that for every $1 invested in safety, your business will see a minimum of a $3 return on investment.
The investment into workplace safety is an investment into the future of your company and the people that work for you. Neglecting safety is like playing Russian roulette with your business. Most small businesses can not overcome a serious OSHA penalty or fine and end up having to close their doors as a result of such actions.
Taking Safety Further
While each industry has their own set of safety requirements, successful workplace environments all have a common theme. They believe in the value of safety, while constantly improving standards that reduce risks and lower incident rates. Consider these following segments when analyzing your organization’s safety goals.
- Management and Employee Engagement: Values and fundamentals always start at the top. Is your safety culture apart of daily integration as a shared and equal responsibility between management and employees?
- Safety Management Framework: An effective safety management system is the bases for all safety processes and procedures. This ensures a cooperative effort, allowing tasks and objectives to be completed in a timely, yet safe manner.
- Risk Cutting: To understand risk, one must anticipate the possibility of a potential threat and the result accordingly. Any and all places of businesses form some form of risk, the difference is those who acknowledge the risks present and take preventative action.
- Performance Assessment: As with any plan of action. a checks and balance system is essential to maintaining goals and measure performance.
Safety must come first. Workplace tragedies must be prevented. And making a living should never mean dying.