Can you guess the economic impact of preventable injuries? It is a whopping $170.8 billion in 2018 as per National Safety Council, a non-profit organization. The split up of this figure tells its own tale. While the cost per worker is $1,100, the cost per death is a humungous $1.19 million ($4 million in the case of construction workers) and the cost per injury is $41,000. These figures include estimates of wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and damage to motor vehicles.
According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 5,250 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2018, a 2 percent increase from the 5,147 in 2017. The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Transportation incidents, incidents involving contact with objects and equipment, caught in running equipment or machinery and workers struck by falling objects or equipment were the main reasons for the fatalities.
The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) revealed that there were 2,834,500 non-fatal injuries recorded in 2018. Among these, cases involving sprains, strains, tears, cases involving injuries to the back and cases involving falls, slips, trips were prominent.
What do these stark figures cited above, tell you?
You can perhaps visualize two scenarios:
First, what if in your construction work place you record a death of one worker and injury to 10 other workers in your organization? It means that you would incur an expenditure of $4 million plus $0.41 million which could potentially wipe out all your profits for that year.
Second, what if you planned well ahead and spent about $0.5 million to implement safety and health precautions at the workplace and prevented the death and injuries, you would have saved $3.91 million that year.
These are not imaginary. They are real and will impact you negatively if you don’t take precautions and impact you positively if you take health and safety precautions.
Where and how should you deploy funds to make your workplace safe and healthy? The causes of non-fatal and fatal injuries give pointers which could include the following:
- Safer transportation vehicles through proper maintenance and training
- Safety zones in places where heavy equipment and objects proliferate
- Protective clothing and shields for workers running equipment and machinery
- Proper harnessing of loose objects and equipment
- Removing uneven surfaces on floors
- Keeping surfaces dry and clean
- Providing manual, mechanical, electrical and electronic aids to help move objects
These simple preventive measures will help you to minimize fatalities and injuries in your work place. On the other hand, if you neglect to provide these safety features you will take a hit on your bottom line, face derision from your employees and the media and invite slip-and-fall lawsuits.
Although spending money to take safety and health precautions may appear wasteful it is a prudent step that everyone must consider. Taking safety and health precautions also offers you qualitative benefits. These include the reduction of family’s pain and suffering due to injuries and the status quo of quality-of-life. Besides, your employees will see you as a caring employer who has their back as far as safety and health of their employees are concerned. When you care for their health and safety, your employees will reciprocate by working harder and increasing productivity and improving quality.
It is quite clear that if you provide a safe and healthy environment in your workplace you will reap the benefits manifold. Overall, your bottom line swells and you and your employees can breathe easy knowing well that both you and your employees contribute to the health of your company.
Now, don’t you think you and your employees can rest easy with preventive and safe measures in place? The real upside to this will be seen when your bottom line shines when you next declare your financial results.