The simple answer is yes. Even in rough economic times, investing in an integrated health and safety approach will always save you money in the long run. One of the top challenges for employers in the service sector is employee loyalty and retention. Integrating health and safety into your business operations communicates loudly that you care about your employees. Employees who feel valued have greater loyalty to their employers.
The Health and Safety Return on Investment
- Fewer injuries mean fewer employees are losing time which will reduce or eliminate revenue losses
- Less time spent administratively on filing WCB claims
- Fewer financial resources spent replacing an injured worker with a new employee that needs training. This can cut into productivity and revenues.
- If the injury is severe, you will be required to provide modified work to the returning worker which can also slow down productivity initially
- The delay in resuming business “as usual” can result in customer dissatisfaction and loss of customer loyalty
- Visible demonstrations of health and safety creates a good corporate image for your customers
Healthy and Safe Employees Are Worth It
One of your key competitive strengths is the knowledge and experience of your employees. Health and safety directly improves employee morale and motivation which translates into:
- Greater loyalty and retention
- Improved customer service and satisfaction
The True Cost of Health And Safety
Aside from legislative compliance, which requires all businesses to provide safe work environments, preventing injuries is the smart way to maximize your profitability. Not investing in health and safety, particularly in times of keen competition and low profit margins, can cost you 4-25 times the direct costs of wage replacement.
A seasonal employee who strains his back is off work for five days. Assuming that person will make $13,000 in a 6 month period, the indirect costs to your business at 5 times the direct cost amounts to $2,500. Assuming a 5% profit margin, the revenue needed to off-set the cost of this accident is $50,000.
The cost of one minor back injury compounded by increasing WSIB premiums (7.9% increase in 2003 for your WSIB Rate Group 921) can lead to significant costs for your business - which was entirely preventable.
Investing in Health & Safety – How Much Will it Cost?
The most economical and practical way to manage workplace health and safety is to develop safe work practices and integrate them into your daily operations. The commitment to health and safety must be high but there are ways to integrate the safety message without a lot of additional costs or expenses. Taking simple, basic and appropriate steps can make an integrated health and safety approach happen with relative ease over time.
Simple Steps You Can Take Today
1. Use your existing communications vehicles to raise the awareness of health and safety issues
- Staff meetings ? add health and safety as a regular agenda item
- Staff newsletters ? add a health and safety component
- Verbal instructions ? ensure supervisors are informing staff how to do the job safely
2. Orient new staff and young workers
Young workers are more likely to experience an injury on the job, so it is important that your expectations around health and safety behaviour be articulated.
- Set up a mentoring/buddy system for new/young workers with an experienced employee and build in accountability
- Ensure that new/young workers know their rights and responsibilities (available free through the Ontario Service Safety Alliance (OSSA) and their web site)
- Include information on safe work practices, hazard identification, your expectations for them to work safely at all times, who they can report a hazard or accident to, etc.
3. Include safety performance in employee performance appraisals
- Identify to staff that part of a positive appraisal includes them working safely, following safe work practices and reporting concerns/hazards.
4. Involve employee input on how to improve a business issue/operation
- Employees are one of your most valuable valuable resources. Engage their commitment and use their first-hand knowledge of operations to help you resolve safety concerns. Employees who work directly in an area or with a hazard can be a good source of information on ways to make the job/task easier. It’s in everyone’ best interest.
You’re not alone: OSSA Can Help You
Part of your insurance premiums pay for the services of OSSA as part of the Ontario occupational health and safety system. You’re already a member of OSSA and in good company. We know that businesses from the service sector that have been working with OSSA for the past five years saved $2.50 in premiums and benefit costs for every dollar spent on prevention.
- OSSA clients save the occupational health and safety system $11M in premiums;
- OSSA clients are collectively saving $7Million/year in benefit costs;
- Clients experience 44,000 fewer lost time days
- And, they are collectively experiencing 620 less lost time and non-lost time injuries.
OSSA offers you a variety of ways to work with us. You can work one-on-one with a consultant at no charge, access services and products on-line through our web site, or receive information from our Client Services Line. All inquiries and services to our clients are kept strictly confidential. Contact OSSA at 1-888-478-6772 or visit http://www.ossa.com to locate a consultant near you.
This article was taken from pages 8 & 9 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, September/October 2003 Issue