Merriam-Webster defines “risk” as a “possibility of loss or injury” or “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard.” Another definition of risk is “the chance that an investment will lose value.” For many business owners that precious investment is the employees who work for them. Having worked with hundreds of small business owners as they try to implement a good corporate safety culture and program, I know firsthand that owners do not want their employees injured or even worse, involved in a fatality. In a small company, it usually means that the employee involved in the fatality was a relation or closely tied to the owner.
In the context of workplace injuries, a negative risk outcome means at the very worst – a fatality. Other risk outcomes could be injuries, damage to equipment or facilities, OSHA citations, the potential for lawsuits, and possibly damage to the business’s reputation. If you are a small business owner with a limited budget, what do you need to know to keep your workers safe? How do you understand and meet regulatory compliance? How well do you understand the rules that govern your industry?
The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services’ page on risk management highlights the components of an effective workplace risk management system that emphasizes on safety and health. The website lists the following components for an effective safety and health program:
- Management and Employee Commitment
- Worksite Analysis
- Hazard Recognition
- Employee Training
The WDWS also hinted at the importance of evaluating employees for health concerns and substance abuse as part of an effective safety and health program. Many states have safety resource websites such as this one in Wyoming. OSHA.gov offers a multitude of free resources right at your fingertips. If you need a copy or explanation of any OSHA standard, you can always go to the official OSHA.gov website.
OSHA noted in its article “Safety and Health add value” that businesses spend over $170 billion dollars annually due to work injuries and illnesses. By contrast, businesses that implement safety and health programs for their workplaces save up to 20 to 40 percent of injury/illness costs. These savings could mean a lot for a business trying to stay afloat in this tough economy.
Workers also get a morale boost and work more efficiently if they find their employers committed to their safety. OSHA cited a Fortune 500 company as an example, saying that the company has increased productivity by 13% through an effective safety and health program. Another company with a plant manned by 50 employees had saved over $265,000 in costs due to increased productivity from the implementation of an effective safety and health program.
There are several training options out there to help train employees such as OSHA online safety training courses which are cost-effective, higher knowledge retention rates, and consistent information. On-site training is an excellent way to allow employees to share information and also draw employee awareness to site-specific hazards. Some companies like vendors to come out and perform a hands-on demonstration such as with fall protection. Visit our blog for more workers safety tips and OSHA-related news and updates. Stay safe!