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Safety: Looking Out For Your Employee Family

(3-5 minute read)


Recently a study from Boston University and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine correlated an increase in overdose and suicide deaths to workplace injuries. The study found that at least one week off of work tripled the combined risk of suicide and overdose among women and increased the risk by 50% among men. This recent study presents troubling news and is another example of the importance of establishing a workplace safety program.

What are the benefits of implementing a workplace safety program? Is the return on investment measurable? What is the impact on the workforce?

In a January 2019 article in Safety+Health, The ROI of Safety, the cost of injuries were explored in order to establish an ROI. According to the National Safety Council, injuries and deaths in 2016 cost the U.S. economy $151.1 billion. This number is comprised of lost wages, loss of productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle expenses, employers’ uninsured cost, and fire loss. How does the $151.1 billion breakdown to a more tangible number? This total equates to a $32,000 loss per each workplace injury that was medically consulted. You can even break this number down further to $1,000 per employee.

There are two types of cost associated with injuries, direct and indirect. Examples of direct cost are medical, legal, and workers compensation cost. Indirect cost includes: productivity lost, investigation cost, replacement of damaged equipment, and corrective measures.

Not all injuries have the same monetary value. The infographic nicely illustrates the cost of injuries based on type, body part, and cause. Depending on the type of injury the cost for your group may be higher or lower than the $32,000 per medically consulted injury.

What is the impact of a safety program beyond the cost? A safety program can impact an organization in a number of different ways including engagement, retention, productivity, and recruitment.

In today’s economy, a common discussion is retention. According to a Kronos and Future Workplace study, 87% of HR leaders considered employee retention a primary concern. In a 2016 SmartMarket Report by Dodge Date & Analytics, the impact of safety on the construction industry was examined. What they found was that there was an increase in both retention, up 18%, and recruiting, up 9%. The respondents accredited the increase to the emphasis on workplace safety.

Lockheed Martin also used safety as a way of improving engagement. More engaged employees will be more productive and less likely to look for other employment opportunities. According to the article by SafetyLine, Lockheed Martin focused on creating a safety culture at its Paducah Plant. The results showed that productivity increased by 24% and cost were decreased by 20%.

The previous examples demonstrate the positive impact that a safety program has on a business. What if you don’t have an established safety program? What are the steps needed to gain some of the benefits associated with safety?

The steps detailed below provide an overview of how to start or reinforce an existing safety program. For any employer, there would need to be an extensive review to determine what is required.

Step 1: Commit to Safety – Executives and management must make safety a priority. To implement an effective safety program this must be a top-down initiative.

Step 2: Identify Hazards – Identify hazards such as workplace, activity, and environmental. Complete job analysis to identify who may be at risk of these three types of hazards. Have a safety walk by an outside source; for example, Axios HR, your workers compensation carrier, or an OSHA consultation.

Step 3: Develop written processes – processes will help keep people aware of acceptable procedures as well as keeping people accountable. Programs that should have written process include, additional plans may apply based on industry:

  • Hazard Communication
  • Lockout/Tag-out
  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure

Step 4: Employee education – OSHA standards specifically address that employers are responsible for training employees about potential workplace hazards. In addition; some roles may require that the employer train the individual to ensure that the employee is competent/certified to perform the task (i.e. Forklift training).

Step 5: Investigate all accidents – It is very important to investigate all accidents because a lot can be learned from them. Employers should not only investigate accidents but near misses. By incorporating near misses you will tackle a potential injury waiting to happen.

Step 6: Evaluate your process yearly – Review the effectiveness of your program. Determine if there are changes that should be made to safety. What are the strengths of the program?



October 8, 2019


Axios HR


Article Business Executives Under 50 Employees Care Uncategorized

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