Worker Safety: How Much Is It Worth to Your Business?
The numbers are in, and they aren’t pretty. Workplace injuries are expensive, and the hidden costs can be as much as 20 times the total of the direct costs. Lost productivity, increased insurance premiums, and equipment repair or replacement are just the tip of the iceberg.
A few of the numbers:
- $129,336 – a single OSHA fine where willful neglect is involved
- $800,000 – the cost associated with a single worker death
- $59.9 billion – the cost to U.S. companies of workplace injuries/accidents in 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Despite the high cost of accidents, there’s often a low level of perceived risk in the workplace. Risk perception, an area of psychology utilized by insurance companies and government agencies, shows that future dangers are not taken very seriously by most people, while immediate crises are taken quite seriously. For example, voters in Seaside, Oregon, vetoed a tax measure that would have moved their K-12 school out of the zone of future tsunamis; they felt their money was better spent on current problems.
Entrepreneurs are natural risk-takers, and like most of us, sometimes they will cross their fingers and hope for the best when faced with the cost of taking precautions against disaster. But as any actuary will tell you, irrational decision-making is what keeps insurance premiums higher than they have to be.
The good news: Entrepreneurs are also known for being goal- and future-oriented, and when they calculate the reduced insurance premiums and the dodged bullet of workplace injury costs, a safe workplace has very real value in their long-term planning. The National Safety Council estimates that every dollar invested in injury prevention has an ROI of $2.00-$6.00.
With strains and falling objects making up a significant part of workplace injuries, business owners are turning to safer storage systems that protect workers from lifting heavy weights, such as these carousel lifts :
In busy settings such as hospitals, OSHA levies heavy fines when hallways and passageways are cluttered with equipment and supplies; automated lifts keep the facility in compliance with safety regulations while reducing the storage footprint:
Once safe storage systems are in place helping to reduce workplace injuries and improve productivity, business owners can enjoy the financial benefits of good risk management. And they can turn their attention to more productive risks like sales, marketing, and product development. Spending on safety is a great investment for any business.
Photo © R. Gino Santa Maria / AdobeStock