Health and safety is not just a motto, or at least, it shouldn’t be. Too many businesses baulk at the upfront costs of improving workplace health and safety. Yet there are many demonstrated benefits to doing so beyond winning safety awards and having happy employees. Here are five reasons health and safety is so essential in the workplace.
Accidents disrupt the flow of business. Injured and sick staff are absent from work, and that reduces how much work can get done. It is estimated that accidents and illnesses in the workplace sap 4% of global productivity. In the UK, an estimated 31 million work days were lost due to workplace injuries and work-related illnesses. If someone is left incapacitated or worse, they certainly won’t be able to continue working for the company, causing disruptions in business operations.
Improving health and safety in the workplace thus has a direct benefit to your businesses’ productivity. In comparison, a high level of accidents and injuries makes people reluctant to come to work in the first place. The higher rate of absenteeism certainly hurts productivity. When someone has been injured or suffers from a work-related illness, the odds that they’ll take more sick days or reduce the hours they work are high. Then there is the chance they simply cannot work as effectively in their role, so their personal productivity goes down. Non-medical rehabilitation costs and administration of workplace injury costs are obvious expenses that cut into your profit margin.
Early retirement for health reasons is difficult to quantify but has associated costs. However, the costs of unwanted turnover such as hiring and training their replacements and reduced productivity of the new hires until they get up to speed are known.
Conversely, three-fifths of workers said they would work harder for an employer who invested in their health and safety, according to a 2011 survey. This makes health and safety more than an investment in reduced losses. Rather, it becomes a direct investment in better performance by your employees. There are studies that show the return on investment for some interventions can hit 12:1, though not all interventions will have a positive ROI.
Lower Insurance Costs
A safer, healthier workplace has reduced liabilities, and this can reduce their insurance premiums. Your business can maximise health and safety by including safety training in new employee onboarding. A side benefit of this is ensuring that they learn the latest and greatest procedures and how to correctly use safety equipment if required.
By having HR oversee safety training, they’ll ensure that everyone receives all legally mandated and relevant training – including training that your insurers want everyone to take. This process also acclimates new employees to approaching HR with questions and when they run into problems. When employees are comfortable approaching HR as their advocate, injuries or unsafe working conditions are addressed immediately, minimising the potential damage. Your business should consider investing in health and safety courses relevant to your industry and each person’s role. For more information, you can see this site for a range of courses which include the basics led by St John Ambulance and training for directors and senior managers led by the British Safety Council.
The flip-side this is the literal cost to a business if injuries and illnesses are high. Employers will charge a higher premium if you have too many claims. A business could be paying steep compensation for claims and legal fees if they don’t address workplace safety and health issues.
Lower Recruiting Costs
If your business has a reputation for being unsafe, you’re going to have trouble recruiting new hires. If your business has a reputation for being safe, you won’t end up making it harder to fill empty jobs. Nor will turnover be as high, so Human Resources recruiting costs will be lower overall. A potential benefit of good health and safety policies is higher employee morale – and this can lead to people seeking to work at your business.
A Better Reputation
We’ve already mentioned that a good reputation in terms of health and safety can lead to job referrals by your employees. However, a positive reputation, in general, will result in more leads and likely increase sales. In contrast, accidents are bad for public relations. Major fines for violating workplace health and safety regulations also hurt your business’ reputation.
Other Reduced Costs Caused by Injuries and Illnesses
The total cost of injuries and workplace injuries was estimated to be around fourteen billion pounds in 2013. Ill health alone accounted for over eight billion pounds. Society as a whole benefits when occupational health and safety improvements reduce injuries and accidents. And in addition to the burden on the healthcare system, there was an estimated nearly three-billion-dollar cost borne by businesses in 2011, and that number has only grown with inflation.
Good health and safety in the workplace yield a number of dividends. Poor health and safety in the workplace come with a price tag you cannot afford.