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Safety, but at what cost?

September 24, 2009
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I’ve worked in consulting and I’ve worked in manufacturing and I like both equally. In consulting you are only valuable to your company if you are billable and are bringing in business.

In manufacturing you are “safe” if your boss likes you and you are able to keep your OSHA log empty and your experience modifier low.

With the down turn in the economy, I got let go because I was not billable. So I did what any other enterprising American does – I started my own company.

Any company would be honored for me to help them improve their EHS program, wouldn’t they? But at what cost?

That’s where we, the industrial establishment, have a problem. We want to have a safe workplace for our employees. In fact the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty clause requires it (Section 5(a)(1)).

But, as one friend told me, “My plant manager cannot justify soft dollars. So I can’t get any money for my safety program.” Soft dollars is the money you spend to prevent an incident from occurring.

If you hire me as your consultant and I give this training program and your employee doesn’t get hurt, how much did I save you?

How do you develop justification for spending soft dollars? Submit your comments because by developing justification we will all benefit.
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Safety, but at what cost

Glenn
September 30, 2009
You have to fight dollars with dollars. I live and work in Canada, but until my current position every company I worked for was US owned and operated. In my last position (a VERY large US corporation I won't name) my annual performance appraisals were based on perception. It wasn't set up or meant to be that way, but that was reality. In my first two appraisals, I clearly stated the accomplishments of the safety management system, OHS excellence certifications, and so on. My pay raise was minimal and I felt like I was there because I was necessary for compliance but really just a nuisance. In my third appraisal I decided to take a diferent route. I clearly stated how much money was saved year over year. I did a cost-benefit analysis and showed how much we spent on implemtation of guards and processes, corrolated that with how much was spent on compensation costs and added in estimates of the hidden costs (downtime, overtime, etc.). This effectively showed my boses that having me there was starting to pay off for the better. They were impressed and offered my a bigger raise that year. I quit before it took effect and left them without an OHS professional for a while. I heard their injury rates increased.

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