Safety in the workplace is undergoing change: evolving from an optional extra to a compliance necessity, firms are now increasingly recognizing the many benefits of developing, and committing to, a strong safety culture. These range from increased staff morale and increased productivity, to reduced injury-related costs, competitive insurance premiums and improved turnover profits and reputation.
However, encouraging a culture of safety involves more than mere lip service. Safety-orientated values, long-term commitments to firm-wide safety, and consistent concrete actions will determine which organisations will reap the rewards of creating and maintaining an effective safety culture.
What is meant by a “Safety Culture”, and why is it important?
Safety in the workplace saves lives; it also saves money. According to the 2013 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, US businesses lose more than a billion dollars a week in compensation costs arising from the 10 most common workplace injuries and illnesses – incidents which could be prevented with proper safety measures in place. These figures do not account for the associated productivity losses and administrative expenses, which are estimated to amount to a further $120 billion, annually.
Too often, safety in the workplace is regarded as an expensive option, and the cost of implementing an effective and comprehensive safety policy becomes the firm’s overriding concern. However, the costs to a company of not developing and nurturing a positive safety culture are high in many regards. A poor safety record will result in the following knock-on effects: