When you think of safety in your company, what comes to mind? For many companies that we’ve worked with, the initial thoughts are things like PPE, OSHA, recordable incidents, paperwork, training, additional costs, and so on.
But what about things like employee morale, brand reputation, quality, and even cost savings? We need to change our mindset when thinking about safety. Reducing or eliminating OSHA recordable incidents and avoiding hefty fines are valid reasons for wanting to implement and adhere to a safety program; however, thinking of only those benefits sells your company and its employees short.
This past summer, we had an article published in Plant Services Magazine about why companies need to get strategic about safety. From that article, here are some other excellent reasons to consider implementing a safety strategy at your company:
Brand image and reputation
A report of a serious accident or OSHA fine can be very damaging for a brand. In the age of social media and easy access to information and opinions, it is very easy for a company’s shortcomings to be found with a simple search online. Brands that have a reputation of prioritizing employees’ safety are viewed favorably within their industries and communities. It can even give them an edge on recruiting. According to a 2017 survey of small business employees conducted by Employers Insurance, safety was among the top criteria employees consider when evaluating a new job offer.
Improved employee morale and engagement
Improved morale and engagement lead to increased productivity. Your reputation internally is just as important as it is publicly. People want to work for a company that cares about safety. They want to know that someone is thinking of them. Then they’ll brag about that to other people. Also, employee morale and employee engagement go hand-in-hand, and when they go up, so does productivity. According to a Gallup report, organizations with highly engaged employees have 21 percent higher profitability compared to organizations with low engagement.
Safety systems implemented in the beginning can help machines run better. Take, for instance, a packaging line that needs to be configurable to pack many different SKUs. When it’s time to package a different product, operators have to go and adjust the rails on the conveyor and the filler necks and change parts out to accommodate the different sizes of the new product. This means they will need to put their hands in the machines to be able to make these changes. However, when the risks of a given machine are assessed as a part of a safety system, the required adjustments and changes can be automated, keeping workers safe and allowing the changeouts to be more repeatable. It’s about being consistent, achieving center lines, providing more vertical startups, lowering the downtime required for changeover, and reducing scrap.
While safety strategy and systems can cost money upfront, your investment can pay dividends down the line. Companies with a solid safety program in place are able to reduce their Experience Modification Rate (EMR), the number used by insurance companies to gauge the past cost of injuries and the chance of risks in the future. If your company’s EMR is higher than the 1.0 average, you can expect to pay higher premiums. On the other hand, companies with an EMR that is lower than 1.0 will see a reduction in premiums.