Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident – Why Prioritizing A Culture of Safety Improves Your Bottom Line
Did you know that the cost of workplace injuries and deaths per year for U.S. businesses, employers, and employees is more than $171 billion? Of that cost, the industry that experiences the most accidental deaths is construction. At the same time, health and education see the most nonfatal injuries and illnesses, and agriculture has a higher death rate per 100,000 workers.
This indicates a real need to prioritize a culture of safety. And not just for the most obvious — albeit very important — reasons (i.e., to save lives and provide more protection for employees), but to also secure the financial state of your business.
Building a culture of safety saves money in three tangible ways:
- Decreasing Accidents in the Workplace
- Lowered Healthcare Premiums for Employers
- Reducing Workers' Comp Claims
Safety and wellness in the workplace don't just happen by accident. It takes a significant amount of time to build and maintain. Here's everything you need to know about the importance of a safety culture to get started.
What Does It Mean to Have a Culture of Safety?
According to OSHAcademy, "Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior."
To have a culture of safety, your entire organization will need to share the same values, beliefs, rules, and procedures about minimizing harm in the workplace while promoting a safe environment for all employees. This concept is most commonly implemented in potentially high-risk work environments — i.e., manufacturing, trucking, construction, healthcare, etc.
What are the Attitudes and Values of a Workplace that Prioritizes Safety?
The following characteristics are prioritized in culture safety:
- Involved Leaders
- Regular Support
- Shared Awareness and Cooperation Across the Organization
- Ongoing Training & Learning
- An Appropriate Balance of Workers vs. Work
- Strong Communication
How Can I Implement a Culture of Safety?
To get you over some of the biggest challenges you'll run into when implementing a culture of safety, here are some actionable steps you can take to get started.
Lead by Example
It's imperative that everyone in your organization embraces and adheres to the new safety mindset, behaviors, beliefs, procedures, etc. Getting started begins with management leading by example. It's time that you not only say what changes need to be made but show it in all of your leadership actions. After all, studies — particularly one conducted in 2018 — found that leading by example can 'significantly influence cooperation.'
Define Responsibilities (and Stay Consistent)
If the responsibilities of every worker are defined and preferably easy to access, there will be less confusion about what part every employee plays in the day's production. These responsibilities should also remain consistent to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Open Communication and Worker Involvement
Open communication will allow more employees to approach leadership with any questions, concerns, clarifications, or recommendations they may have. This will get more workers involved in the safety of your workplace, which will boost cooperation and employee morale while identifying more areas in need of improvement.
Training is Essential
Finally, continual training and learning are essential to the success of a safety-first culture. After all, knowledge is power, and if your employees are adequately equipped with the tools and training they need to do their job safely, the risk of accidents is decreased substantially. Furthermore, continued training is essential since it ensures every worker is up to date on the latest best practices and procedures while refreshing them on measures they may have forgotten.
The Benefits of Safety Culture
The benefits of implementing a culture of safety could take hours — if not days — to cover fully. However, the following benefits are at the top of the list of reasons why you should get started sooner rather than later:
- Decreased Accidents
- Make better Decisions
- Healthier Employees
- Higher Morale
- Better Environment
Safetec adds that:
- Employees make more thoughtful decisions during emergencies.
- Your company's reputation will improve as more people view your business as a better place to work.
- Higher productivity occurs when employees are more aware of how to handle various situations.
How Safety Culture Improves ROI
According to the EHS Daily Advisor, the answer to how safety culture improves ROI (return-on-investment) is best conveyed in the financial success of Alcoa, where their CEO Paul O'Neill was one of the first to prioritize safety over profits. He had a goal of 'zero injuries.' According to their reports, the company has since quintupled its income, saw annual earnings from $0.20 per share to $1.41 in just five years, and grew by 15% every year. It was also noted that the company was considered five times safer at his time of retirement — just ten years later.
So, what exactly is contributing to your bottom line? Well, for starters:
- Less Time is Lost
- Decrease in Accidents
- Decrease in Absenteeism
- Improved Morale = More Productivity
- Lower Healthcare Costs
- Fewer Workers' Comp Claims
Partner With PRO
Implementing a culture of safety can be challenging. Still, it's necessary if you want to increase your bottom line by taking care of the very people who make it possible for your business to get where it is today. As an added benefit, you may also find that your workplace culture has also become stronger and much healthier. This can be a gamechanger considering research shows that most (94%) of entrepreneurs and job seekers attribute a healthy culture at work to a company's success.
Contact us at PRO Resources for more insight into improving safety, lowering accidents and injuries, improving ROI, and more.