The Occupational Safety and Health Administration tells us that businesses spend $170 billion each year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses. However, OSHA also reports that workplaces that have established safety and security management systems have reduced their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.
A strong safety culture is imperative for all businesses in all industries, from office buildings to manufacturing and beyond, as no one is immune to accidents and illness. Our challenge, as corporate leaders, is to continue to lessen risk, protect our employees and increase our safety culture.
We all have a safety culture; you shouldn't focus on creating one. The real task requiring leadership is evolving what you have and making sure it is valued within your company. Leaders must actively support the safety culture, as they set the example. Company leaders need to motivate and encourage employee involvement, and cultivate and drive culture. This evolution can directly affect your bottom line.
As the CEO of a company with more than 55,000 employees, I know the importance of an enhanced safety culture. The health and wellness of our employees directly relate to the quality of services we provide to our clients. When employees are engaged in safety programs and take on an active safety role, risks are reduced, employee morale improves and the organization will see notable cost savings.
Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how engaged is my company on safety? If you score low, there is no better time than the present to move past the basics you may already have in place. Meeting industry standards just isn't enough to see visible results. This requires more than posters on a break room wall or a paragraph in your employee handbook. Involve employees in the identification of workplace safety hazards. You can use those findings to direct the creation of new policies and procedures.
If you feel your organization is in the middle of the scale with its safety culture, take this time to recognize how you can do more. Consider implementing safety committees or working groups. Evaluate the safety training programs you currently have in place. Have you thought about partnering with vendors or colleagues to enhance your safety programs?
I applaud those who have scored themselves at the top of the scale. You have taken your safety culture to a new level and you are able to measure your results. You have made improvements and you have actively involved all employees from the top-down. Organizations such as Valero and Volvo are known for their quality safety initiatives. These companies and others have earned such recognition by making a sustained effort for the long term. If you are at the top of the scale -- don't stop! You are doing something right. Keep evolving.
Leaders have the power to directly influence company culture and safety culture is no different. Without top organizational involvement and a commitment to safety, your company will have an increased rate of accidents and injuries. Safe workplaces provide the consistency needed to grow a business and develop employee advocates. Workplaces with active safety leadership have fewer injuries, grateful visitors and more productive employees, which again, all impact your bottom line.