Is a written policy report considered a solution to occupational health and safety issues? Does management commitment to safety make a difference?
Before we answer those questions, allow me to state few useful statistics:
- - Nearly 50 employees are injured every minute of a 40-hour workweek and almost 17 employees die each day (USA).
- - According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, USA), nearly one/third of all serious injuries and illnesses stem from overexertion or repetitive motion. These are disabling, expensive injuries.
- - Establishing a safety program to prevent injuries is not only the right thing to do, it is the profitable thing to do.
Based on the above few useful statistics, it is safe to assume that Management not only has an ethical and moral obligation towards organizational Safety, but also a "dollar and cents" obligation. Studies have shown a $4 to $6 return for every dollar invested in health and safety within the organization. Therefore, it is essential for management, top management in particular, to demonstrate not only an interest but also a long term strategic commitment to protect every employee from injury and illness on the job.
Let it be clear that management commitment to organizational health and safety will occur to the extent each member of the management team clearly understands the positive effects and benefits derived from that commitment including the direct and indirect costs of accidents. As studies and analysis of accidents have shown, accidents are more expensive than many managers realize. The reason being, there are many hidden costs that are not truly apparent and obvious. The direct costs such as medical bills, indemnity may be covered by workers' compensation claims. However, the hidden cost will encompass the cost to train and pay a replacement employee, the cost of downtime of equipment, and also the cost to repair the damaged machinery or tools or properties. It makes good sense to reduce the costs and risks associated with accidents, whether they cause injuries or not. Therefore, having a "visible" safety program will definitely help setting the stage for a much improved employee attitude towards such a program. To achieve this goal, management must put in place a roadmap as well as an implementation to help to convince employees that the program is a real concern and not just another administrative action to meet some government regulations.