EHS Administration, EHS Management, Personnel Safety, Safety Culture and Behavioral Safety

3 Problems With Cutting Your Safety Program

Experts have gone back and forth about whether we’re technically in a recession. But as the dust settles, one thing’s clear: companies feel like there’s an economic slowdown—and they’re looking for ways to cut costs.

For many companies, safety programs might be first on the chopping block. But if you’re thinking about a program cut, remember: safety should be top of mind for every organization. Without a robust safety program, there could be major problems down the road. Here, I’ll outline three.

Problem 1: More Frequent Accidents

Safety programs are key to accident prevention. Between employee training, hazard communication, and strong leadership buy-in, a safety program can slash the number of on-site accidents.

But with a program cut, that benefit goes away.

The minute companies take their eyes off safety, their workers become more susceptible to accidents and injuries. Apart from the obvious human cost, accidents can tank productivity and morale—bad news when margins are tight.

By keeping their safety program intact, companies can engage in proactive accident prevention and protect their bottom line.

Problem 2: Less Room for Error

When money’s tight, the last thing companies want is an unbudgeted surprise. And that’s exactly what accidents are.

Each nonfatal accident costs companies about $42,000 per workers’ compensation claim. The productivity hit has a cost, too: workers will generate less revenue right when companies need it most.

While employee accidents are never a good thing, the financial impacts are easier to absorb during a boom. But in a slowdown, there’s less money on hand—and less room for error. That’s why companies should keep their safety program intact. A safety program creates the buffer companies need to avoid sudden, costly surprises.

Problem 3: A Weaker Culture of Safety

Every safety-minded company needs a culture of safety: it’s the difference between basic compliance and a safety-first environment. But that culture depends on everyone’s buy-in, all the way to the top.

When companies cut their safety program, it shows that leaders aren’t walking the walk. Workers don’t just want to hear about safety being a priority, they want to see it, too. If safety programs and personnel get cut, that sends the wrong message.

There are cultural consequences even when a safety program is partially defunded. A skeleton department might end up overworked or lose key safety experts. The result: a shrinking company-wide impact, which erodes the safety culture.

By preserving their safety program, companies can ensure their safety culture weathers the slowdown.

In Slow Times, Don’t Cut Safety—Invest in It

I work with a lot of oil and gas companies, and they’re used to a constant boom-bust cycle. The ones that bounce back use slow periods to prepare for the blue skies ahead.

For safety-minded companies, a slowdown is the best time to invest in your safety program. Look for ways to boost efficiencies with digital reporting tools, mobile training software, and incident management tech. With proactive investments, your company can effectively manage costs and keep safety top of mind—even during a slowdown.

Deren Boyd is senior vice president of KPA. KPA, an ABC Tech Alliances partner, provides Environment, Health & Safety (EHS), and Workforce Compliance software and services for a wide range of businesses. KPA solutions help clients identify, remedy, and prevent workplace safety and compliance problems across their entire enterprise.