The business case for safety
Made presentations pleading for more money, better staffing levels, and visible buy-in from upper management?
Try shifting your focus from being the safety cop or the safety fireman to a partner. This makes a huge difference in the way safety and health is perceived. To the employee you change from someone forcing rules and cumbersome compliance to a provider of help, an information source, an advocate and an ally.
To management you become a revenue protector, risk reducer, liability eliminator, and in many cases even a revenue generator.
Selling employeesTodayâ€™s employees are asked to do more with less, become the lean plant, stay competitive, be more productive. This is a natural opening for you to make the case that high (and costly) injury rates equate to less secure jobs in the competitive marketplace.
High-risk employees are not only at high risk for injuries but also for elimination from the world marketplace. I once had the president of my company visit similar operations in a third-world country. He was amazed at the lack of PPE, guarding and other things weâ€™ve come to know protect our employees. He commented to the hosting plant manager that he surely must have a high (and costly) rate of injuries.
â€œHardly anyâ€ replied the plant manager. â€œEvery employee understands that if he gets hurt there are a hundred people outside to take his job, he will lose his benefits, and he will no longer have a job. That motivates them to work safely regardless of the conditions or circumstances.â€
Your employees need to buy into the business case for safety performance. They must understand competitors with an injury-free advantage can literally run them out of business. The price of goods sold can become inflated by workersâ€™ compensation costs, employee replacement costs, and medical costs for injured employees. These costs directly reduce bottom line profitability of their company.
Where you see an organization working in an injury-free atmosphere, youâ€™ll generally see an organization also highly efficient at quality, production, customer service and other areas critical to maintaining a competitive workforce.
Employees must understand and accept that the global, highly competitive marketplace they work in today is entirely different than it was even five years ago â€” and radically different than 20 or 30 years ago. This is especially hard for long-term employees to fully grasp.
And of course, your workforce needs to understand their safety truly is important to many people: their families, the company, their coworkers. A momentâ€™s failure to be safe can adversely affect them and the organization forever.
Selling managementManagers are motivated by different drivers: economics, compliance, ethical considerations, long-range plans, stockholder accountability, etc. A major issue is always return on investment dollar. Returns on safety investments exist in most cases, but we must uncover them and present them in a professional way.
For example: Reductions in workersâ€™ compensation reserve accounts can often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is seldom budgeted or even known until long after the books on a year are closed and are forgotten. These are real dollars that can be added right to the bottom line. Aggressive safety and health management can make a tangible, quantifiable monetary difference in the profitability of the company in this area.
Huge dollars are spent to improve efficiency and profitability. Itâ€™s our job to make sure managers see the correlation between improvements in safety and improvements in quality, customer service, etc.
Many companies are pre-qualifying companies based on safety performance before doing work with them or providing products to them. Their thinking: If you have a poor safety performance record this might very well signal other core deficiencies.
Obviously there are many more selling points â€” but these alone leave no doubt that exceptional safety performance equates to better business for employees and better business for companies. If you havenâ€™t been tracking the business motivators for safety improvements, maybe itâ€™s time you started â€” and stopped beating your head against the wall.