Too often, sacrifices in workplace safety and health are made in the name of cost-savings or misplaced assurance that “an incident will never happen here.” Safety professionals offer recommendations that fall on deaf ears, are met with blank stares, or are brushed off as unimportant, extraneous matters. So forget about best practices, employer responsibility, or even laws and regulations that stipulate safety requirements.
Let’s talk money.
Rather than categorize safety investments in terms of cost, consider injury and illness incidents in terms of additional sales. There is plenty of data associated with workplace safety incidents and workers compensation claims to calculate average sales required to overcome safety and health incidents. In fact, OSHA has created a unique tool called “$afety Pays” to help determine impact on profitability. Employers can use this tool with actual workers compensation costs and profit margin or obtain general information on direct costs associated with common injuries and illnesses.
The top three incidents resulting in workplace injuries are overexertion (34%), contact with objects and equipment (25%), and slips, trips, and falls (25%). These incidents typically result in injuries such as sprains, strains, dislocation, fractures, crushing, and hernias. So how much additional sales are needed to cover both direct and indirect costs associated with these injuries? A simple contusion (bruise) requires an estimated $1,935,700 in sales to cover both the direct and indirect costs, which total approximately $58,071. Who knew a bruise could be worth so much!!
Obviously, as injuries intensify, total costs and the necessary additional sales increase. Below are some common injuries that are calculated by the “$afety Pays” database.
All of the injuries outlined above can result from poor housekeeping, falls (both at height and on the same level), improper forklift operation, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and lack of ergonomic controls for worker tasks. Furthermore, the indirect costs of a single injury can translate to a full-time salaried position or third-party consultation fees. The improvements in workplace safety and health, as well as injury prevention, can vastly improve with that amount of investment. All it takes is a single serious injury to greatly impact overall profitability and the above data does not even consider potential litigation costs. So if safety isn’t that important or is a tough pitch at your workplace, then get to selling!
"Progress Demands Change"