Businesses have long sought to balance the dual priorities of safety and productivity. Lockton Senior Loss Control Consultant Tim Balmer acknowledges the struggle.
“Most business owners and managers will say safety is their number one priority,” Balmer writes in a recent white paper. “However, the reality is that safety can often take a back seat to production.” A strong safety culture will bring down injuries and raise profits, he adds.
Focusing on production without a strong safety culture can have significant financial consequences, says Balmer. For example, a business that has a 3 percent profit margin and experiences 10 strain injuries may need to increase sales by more than $20 million to cover the cost of those injuries.
Balmer says employees like to feel valued. And seeing that their employer cares about safety can encourage productivity.
Balmer recommends five practices employers can implement to improve safety culture and positively impact the bottom line.
- Take it from the top. Managers must be educated on safety standards and rules and lead by example, by implementing the rules and showing high levels of engagement.
- Communicate your safety message. Educate employees about safety practices from day one.
- Measure what you’re doing. What gets defined and measured gets done. Clearly communicate safety program expectations and follow up based on metrics that reflect how well the expectations are being met.
- Hold everyone accountable. Supervisors must hold employees accountable for not following safety protocols. Coach, train, and communicate safety on a daily basis.
- Understand that investing in safety pays. In the long run, a culture of safety can help create high levels of employee morale, reduce injuries, and boost productivity.