EHS and Its Value to Management
When we think of successful companies, there are some key attributes to consider. Two of the more prominent ones would be:
- Establishing camaraderie at all levels
- Maintaining quality, productivity, and H&S equally
As health and safety professionals, it can be a constant battle trying to “show” what we have discussed above. Many questions can abound, some simple ones come to mind such as:
- How can I get employees engaged?
- How can I show the return-on-investment (ROI) of health and safety?
- How do I communicate the constant importance of H&S to senior level management?
“How do I communicate the constant importance of H&S to senior level management?” Maybe a simpler version would be, “what is the value proposition of H&S?”
Before we fully jump in, I want to stress the importance establishing engagement and communication within an organization, at all levels. Without those two attributes, most organizations will become stalemate and not show improvement of any capacity.
Now, let’s shift the discussion to creating and showing the value of health and safety to upper-level management. No matter the situation, if our companies aren’t profitable, we won’t be around very long in business. An extremely profitable aspect of any company is protecting the workforce. Thus, as H&S professionals, we must encourage management to constantly understand, and determine, the ROI of keeping employees healthy and safe.
Talking numbers is always a clear-cut issue and can help paint a broad picture of the importance of health and safety. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), work injury costs in 2019 totaled over $171 billion (this includes wage and productivity losses ($53.9 billion), medical expenses ($35.5 billion) and admin expenses ($59.7 billion)). Per worker, that is $1,100 and per medically consulted injury it is $42,000. Now imagine putting more focus on health and safety (whether by training, improved risk assessment, better incident management processes, hazard recognition, etc.) and what that could do to those numbers. A study from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Office of Regulatory Analysis has stated, “evidence suggests companies that implement effective safety and health can expect reductions of 20% or greater in their injury and illness rates and a $4-6 return for every $1 invested.” It is also worth noting, this study was from almost 20 years ago, which means those numbers would be much larger for a return.
Let’s consider the top 10 causes of workplace injuries. Liberty Mutual releases an annual safety index which compiles the 10 causes of the most serious disabling workplace injuries. They are then ranked by direct cost to employers based on medical and lost-wage expenses. What’s truly impactful is the cost associated with those 10 causes of disabling injuries: $1 billion a week. Let’s think of the impact of reducing a single injury. Using the OSHA SafetyPays Calculator, if we prevented a single strain (assuming an 8% profit margin) we could save ~$840k. The total cost of the incident would be ~$67k and the total sales to cover the incident would be the $840k. And what’s more, that is a single injury!
Shifting from a strict number’s standpoint, what’s the value of health and safety in “real-words.” Keeping workers healthy and safe is more than a governmental requirement, it’s a moral obligation and true value-add. Research has constantly shown an increase in employee moral and productivity (as well as overall quality of work) is associated with a positive culture and promotion of health and safety. With that simplistic thought, why wouldn’t we put a focus on health and safety?
Whether it’s discussing the importance of health and safety for the reduction of injuries and illnesses, or for total employee buy-in, it’s crucial management understands and provides valuable tools for frontline employees to be truly engaged. Likewise, It’s vital frontline employees show they truly care by constantly being proactive when it comes to all things health and safety. Being an employee who strives to establish camaraderie with others and understands the vitality of constantly learning is paramount in a best-in-class business.
Creating and maintaining cultures in an organization is never easy, but it is going to happen whether you want it to or not. It’s up to all levels, to produce cultures of learning and positivity. Where health and safety can fit, is everywhere in between.
About SHE Software
SHE Software is a global technology company transforming the way employees engage in workplace health and safety. Its market leading solution, Assure, is used by more than 350 customers in North America, Europe and Australasia across a wide range of industries. SHE Software’s intuitive, mobile first application fosters worker participation, guiding frontline activities while capturing rich data to help prioritize safety and operational improvements and ensure compliance. Ease of deployment and resulting swift customer impact drive SHE Software’s rapid multi-year growth. Contact us to request a demo today!
About the Author
Mr. Dement is a Certified Safety Professional and an Associate Ergonomics Practitioner. He has is a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals and the American Industrial Hygiene Association. He has presented nationally and internationally on culture transformation, the importance of incident management, and job hazard analysis.