Safety Pays for Everyone
Why should you put the effort into improving workplace safety and health?
Work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths are costly to everyone. A safe and healthy work environment pays, in more ways than one.
In Maine each year about 17,000 workers lose time from work because of job-related injury or illness. The National Safety Council estimates the average cost of a lost-time injury to be $33,000 in 2002. That's $561,000,000 wasted each year in Maine alone.
At $170 billion a year nationwide, the direct and indirect costs of work injuries and illnesses equal those of cancer, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
These are only financial costs. There's no way to know the value of the quality of life lost to injuries and illnesses.
"Safety and health has a tremendous value to it. …You’re not hurting the person on the job. When that person gets hurt, you have to replace him with somebody that might not be as well trained …your production or your quality might suffer. You’re not having the expense of workers comp and medical bills associated with that. It is certainly a better working environment if people aren’t afraid of what they are doing. A couple of years ago we really started trying hard; we were in control of our medical costs and workers comp costs and over the past 2-3 years, we’ve reduced that dramatically… almost $200,000.”
Shane Crouse, Pride Manufacturing
Work injuries and illnesses can affect every aspect of life for workers and their families.
For workers, injuries or illnesses can cause:
- Loss of life,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of income and financial well-being,
- Stress on relationships,
- Loss of job or career,
- Health-care costs beyond what is covered by insurance.
Workers may also suffer from low self-esteem, loss of independence, mental health problems, other medical problems, and damaged relationships.
A safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, it can also lower injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and raise employee morale. In other words, safety is good for business. Plus, protecting workers is the right thing to do.
Employers can save $4.00 to $6.00 for every dollar spent on a safety and health program. Workplaces with successful safety and health management systems reduce injury and illness costs 20-40%, according to OSHA.
For a small business, one injury can mean financial disaster. Costs to a business include:
- Production losses
- Wages for work not performed
- Increased workers' compensation insurance costs
- Damage to equipment or machinery
- Hiring and/or training new employees
- Decline in product quality and worker morale
- Decline in worker morale
- High turnover and lost work time
The cost of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths is much greater than the cost of workers' compensation insurance alone. Insurance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these costs.
73% of Maine business people surveyed in 2003 believe a comprehensive safety and health program reduces workers' compensation insurance rates and improves the work environment. Over 80% believe it reduces overall injury expenses.
Safety Pays for Everyone
The cost of injury prevention is far less than the cost of an injury. A safe and healthy workplace attracts and retains quality employees. It's an asset to a community, operates more efficiently and enjoys a healthy bottom line. The business and the workers thrive in a safe, healthy, respectful and caring environment
Safe and healthy workplaces:
- Have more satisfied, productive workers who
- Produce higher quality products and services
- Return to work more quickly after an injury or illness
- Feel loyal to the organization
- Are better places to work
- Retain employees
- Establish positive community relations