Health and safety management is an important component of any successful business. Not only does it protect workers, customers, and other stakeholders from harm, but it can also provide tangible economic benefits.
Businesses need to take appropriate steps to ensure that the health and safety of their employees and other stakeholders is prioritized. The ones that don't end up suffering costly losses and major disruptions.
It doesn’t come as shocking news that poor or non-existent occupational safety and health (OSH) practices cost companies money. But did you know that according to studies, for every Euro invested in OSH, there is a return of €2.2 Euros?
The study was initiated by the International Social Security Association (ISSA), and included 337 interviewed companies representing 19 countries.
Creating a safe and hazard-free environment contributes, not only to better mental and physical well-being of workers but also higher productivity. Businesses with higher safety and health standards are more competitive and sustainable.
Labor rights are human rights
Did you know that the International Labor Organization regards a safe working environment as a human right? Providing decent working conditions is also amongst one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As a senior manager this means you have a huge responsibility that goes beyond the everyday working tasks, where budgets and bottom lines often gets the most attention.
This is not a story that aims to preach or “teach you a lesson”, but there’s no doubt that poor workplace safety and health costs money. By sharing this article we hope to create awareness and provide a new perspective on how your company may turn the overwhelming and time-consuming HSE-tasks, into profit. We are convinced, supported by a huge number of reports and research, that by investing in good OSH management you can improve performance and profitability.
Good OSH is good for business
Moreover, with insight into identifying the costs we believe that it will be easier for a management team to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem. Our goal is to help you to set priorities and to contribute to a more efficient allocation of resources
To establish why this is important, let us start with the most recent report from The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) titled “The value of OSH and the societal costs of work-related injuries and diseases”. We have taken the time to gather the key points from this report:
- Approximately 2.4 million non-fatal accidents requiring at least 4 days of absence from work
- 3,182 fatal accidents were reported in EU Member States
- 9 % of the workforce suffered from occupational health problems, of which 36% resulted in absence from work for at least 4 days
- 3 % of European GDP is spent on dealing with work-related injuries and diseases
- €476 billion is the current cost to society for work-related injury and illness
Here's the gist: the most obvious economic benefit of health and safety management is cost savings. When businesses implement safety protocols such as hazard assessments and job hazard analyses (JHAs), they are able to identify potential risks before they become threatening or costly.
This proactive approach can help prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses before they occur—thereby saving the company money in things like medical costs, insurance premiums, legal fees, and other related expenses. In addition, employers may see a decrease in the number of employee absences due to illness or injury. This can result in additional cost savings due to increased productivity.
Identifying the reasons for these costs
Occupational injuries, diseases and deaths has several high economic costs to employers, whereas the senior management has the final responsibility. Some costs, like the loss of skilled staff and absenteeism are obvious, there are various other negative effects that might not be so easy to estimate. One example of this is presenteeism, where employees go to work despite illness, increasing the likelihood of mistakes.
More examples of direct, indirect and intangible costs dealing with occupational injuries, diseases and deaths include:
- Healthcare costs
- Productivity and output losses
- Employer adjustment costs
- Other workers working overtime
- Hiring temporary workers
- Recruiting and training a replacement worker
- Insurance premiums
- Production disturbances
- Administrative costs
Benefiting occupational safety & health management
As identified above, it’s clear how a healthy and safe work environment is an important contributor to labor productivity and promotes economic growth. Investing in OSH increases the competitiveness and productivity of enterprises by reducing costs resulting from accidents at work and work-related health problems, and by enhancing worker motivation.
It's understandable that healthy and safe working conditions not only save money through decreased risk of accidents and illnesses; they also lead to increased productivity.
Employees who feel safe at work are more likely to be productive than those who don't feel safe—and therefore less likely to take breaks or call in sick due to stress or anxiety caused by unsafe working conditions.
Implementing a comprehensive health and safety management system helps ensure that all employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to workplace safety—which helps create a culture where everyone feels comfortable taking initiative without fear of reprisal for speaking up about potential hazards or concerns.
When employees are working in safe conditions they feel secure and better equipped to do their best work without fear of getting hurt on the job.
A safe workspace provides employees with peace of mind which leads to higher productivity levels due to improved morale and reduced stress levels. Employees who feel valued and supported by their employer are more likely to stay longer, leading to greater job satisfaction which results in higher retention rates.
Furthermore, when workers know that their employer cares about their safety they are more likely to take initiative on projects and tasks because they trust that their efforts will be appreciated and rewarded for their hard work.
A strong strategy initiated and adopted by senior management leads to numerous benefits, summarized below:
- Improved productivity through less sickness absence
- Cutting healthcare costs
- Keeping older workers in employment
- Stimulating more efficient working methods and technologies
- Reducing the number of people who have to cut their hours to care for
a family member
Be proactive and meet the new and emerging risks
European workplaces are constantly evolving under the influence of changes in economic and social conditions. Traditionally, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common work-related problem in Europe. Dangerous substances are also a major occupational safety and health issue at many workplaces across Europe. With almost no sector being completely free of dangerous substances they are more commonly used than people tend to realize:
- Almost 40% of enterprises report that chemical or biological substances in the form of liquids, fumes or dust are present
- 18% of workers report being exposed to chemicals
In 2014 a European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2) was conducted. A total of 49,320 establishments, across all activity sectors and employing at least five people, were surveyed in 36 countries. The survey reflects the continued growth of the service sector, introducing emerging risk factors as having to deal with difficult customers, pupils or patients (58%).
What we find most interesting in this survey is that psychosocial risk factors are perceived as more challenging than others. Almost one in five of the establishment’s reports relates to dealing with difficult customers or experiencing time pressure.
Are you up to date with facing these risks?
Identifying emerging risks is obviously the first step, but it's not possible if your organization doesn't have a comprehensive plan for regularly assessing risks. This can include environmental factors such as extreme weather events or pandemics, or economic issues such as changes in regulations or market trends. It’s important to be aware of all potential risks so that you can anticipate any changes that may arise and develop strategies to protect your business from them.
Safety at work is the hidden opportunity!
Occupational safety and health (OSH) is moving into the spotlight, as regulatory requirements, environmental concerns and production standards such as ISO certification, all take hold.
Introducing UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) means a growing need to manage health and environmental responsibilities in the workplace, proactively and comprehensively. Safety and health at work can be key to sustainable development and investment in OSH is important to both the public and private sectors as a competitive advantage.
In communication with hundreds of customers each day we see that practicing health and safety has a new way of thinking. From a traditional hierarchical mindset, operating with multiple systems that are often manual and cumbersome, EHS management today clearly benefits from innovative and digital systems.
New technology has made it possible for us to develop solutions that are 100% tailored to each unique need. Introducing EcoOnline EHS to the market has pioneered the way companies can plan, act and evaluate in collaboration with the employees. Through one centralized and customized system, safety management can be done proactively and decisions made based upon real time information.
A study of 1.8 million employees in 230 organizations across 49 industries and 73 countries, makes clear that employee engagement strongly relates to key organizational outcomes in any economic climate. Even during difficult economic times, employee engagement is an important competitive differentiator for organizations.
If money doesn’t convince you, compliance should!
Occupational safety and health are regulated by one of the most extensive and complex legislations, which companies must comply to. As the risks at work are changing with new technologies and new working environments the legislation is in constant change - are you up to date?
We understand that it can be difficult, and it often seems easier to take shortcuts in order to avoid the hassle often associated with managing the HSE tasks. But the responsibility falls to you, as the manager, to ensure you adhere to the law. It doesn’t matter if you manage a small, local company or a huge international enterprise – if an accident occurs, it is your responsibility.
The risks differ in every workplace, from the traditional high-risk involved in using machines or working at heights, to new and emerging risks such as stress, bullying and harassment (psychosocial risks).
Whether the risks are few or many, the absence of HSE management can have serious consequences. For your reputation, your economic wellbeing and most importantly, the health of your colleagues.
Do you dare take the risks that are involved in not taking full responsibility?
How to improve HSE in a cost-effective way
Open communication between employers and employees is key when it comes to creating a safe workplace environment.
When there is open dialogue, employers gain insight into what potential risks may exist within their facility that need attention or if there is any new technology being used that may require additional training or procedures put into place for best practices when using new equipment.
By addressing employee concerns directly and quickly, you create trust between both parties which further encourages employees to come forward with any issues they may have instead of waiting until something goes wrong before speaking up about it.
EcoOnline has the tools that gives you control and helps you manage your HSE tasks efficiently and in accordance with the law. With EcoOnline EHS it’s easier to build a strong internal safety culture. Every task, from incident reporting and investigation, risk assessments and safety audits are built with the purpose of being customizable and intuitive.
One of the key drivers to become more cost effective is to minimize risk. Within EcoOnline EHS you get access to critical safety information, instantly helping you to get an overview of the risks your employees are exposed to. This makes it possible for you to reduce these risks and thereby win back time otherwise spent on documentation, as well as reducing costs associated with sick leave and halts in production.
EcoOnline EHS makes it easier to get a full overview of all the tasks different employees are responsible for, as well as the status of these tasks. Our support team is available to help you with any queries you may have.
While cost is a consideration, it should not be the deciding factor. Investing in the most comprehensive and tailored HSE system on the market will help create a safe work environment for employees. It’s easy to gain control when you have the right tools.
Edelfarm – Salten Aqua, Norway
Edelfarm – Salten Aqua produces and sells high quality salmon from its localities in the Skjerstadfjord, Norway. With only 10 employees, they are a small business, but own shares in other companies such as Salten Smolt and Salten Aqua.
As with any other aqua cultural businesses, Edelfarm must adhere to strict rules in terms of environmental certifications. Therefore they had high demands when choosing a health, safety and environmental manager tool.
To Edelfarm, it was also important to choose a provider with a long history, proven expertise within safety management and the ability to record all HSE tasks in one place, rather than having many different systems and papers around.
After testing several providers of HSE services they were not satisfied with the user experience, finding it difficult to navigate. That was until they discovered EcoOnline EHS from EcoOnline, which they found easy to use and comprehensive.
To see how you can benefit from investing in our HSE tool, EcoOnline EHS, click the link below to begin your free trial!