How Penny Pinching on Safety Could Pinch You Back

In a tough economy, businesses are forced to clamp down and rake through their budgets for items that can be cut without a major loss in production. Ideally, these are luxuries and extras that you and your employees can live without for a period of time (if not permanently). However, some of the first things to go in many offices end up causing major risks to employee safety and the security of the business. Let me show you what I mean.

Upkeep & Maintenance – What It Really Costs

One of the ways in which many businesses, especially those based on physical production, cut costs is by artificially extending the life cycles of machines and their parts. This saves on maintenance, and can help you spread out your machinery costs over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, the potential costs of such a move generally outweigh the savings. When you apply quick fixes and take shortcuts with equipment, you increase the risk of a machine breaking down or malfunctioning (which can lead to employee injury. When your equipment is down, you’re losing productivity and your output is going to suffer greatly. The amount you could lose in potential sales and customer loyalty by having a major delay in production can very quickly overshadow what would have been the costs of simply paying to have the equipment replaced, updated, or maintained.

If a worker is injured by the equipment, your costs skyrocket – and I’m not just talking about medical treatment and partial wages (things often covered by worker’s compensation insurance). Ensuing legal battles, investigations, and time training a new employee can start to seriously cut into your bottom line. When it comes to machinery, cutting corners is rarely a gamble that pays off.

Be a People Person

Or, more appropriately, never stop thinking about what’s best for those you employ. If you have to cutback on your workforce, put yourself in the mindset of one of your workers for a few minutes. When people know that their co-workers are being let go, they want to do anything they can to avoid being next on the chopping block. They don’t want to raise a fuss, and so they may be less likely to bring safety concerns to the attention of the management. Circumvent this by having management go forward and ask the necessary questions proactively. If employees are approached in a friendly and engaging way, they will be more comfortable speaking their minds than if being concerned about their safety means they have to make a trip to “the boss’ office.”

The mindset you need to adopt when thinking about these kinds of things is that of a seasoned chess player: Always be thinking three moves ahead. Don’t only think about the immediate consequences of a decision, think about all of the dominoes that could start to go if just one tips over. This kind of thinking may seem daunting, but it will greatly improve your foresight and management potential.

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