With businesses of all sizes struggling, cutting procedural corners can be an enticing option for many management teams. Because safety is a preventative aspect of a business, and one that is often undervalued, it is usually one of the first areas to fall to the wayside and feel cutbacks. Unfortunately, the temptation to save money by changing or neglecting safety measures is a mistake that is so potentially costly it has put countless operations out of business. This is because the costs of a work-related injury are not all easily apparent on the surface. Let’s start by breaking down both the overt and hidden costs.
Immediate Costs of an Injury
When most people think about the costs of a workplace injury, their mind jumps immediately to the costs of actual medical procedures and therapy. True, these costs can be astronomical, but the reality is that most businesses have workers’ compensation insurance, and the costs of hospital treatment and doctor’s visits will be covered by your policy. Next down the tier of costs comes partial wages; in addition to medical expenses, worker’s compensation (also known as workman’s comp.) will cover the partial wages that are usually paid out to an injured employee while they recover.
At a glance, this all seems fine and good – Sure, you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but at least your insurance has your back if it happens. That’s true, right up until we look at the…
Hidden Costs of an Injury
The immediate costs of a work-related injury are just the tip of the iceberg, and you’re in for a rude awakening if you don’t prepare for other factors. Chief among these is the lost man-hours to your business. How will your production suffer from being short a worker? Can you replace them? If so, how much money will you have to spend on training a new employee? Keep in mind that this new employee might not be as efficient as your old one.
An ongoing investigation into the injury could also start to add up, not to mention replacement costs if a machine was damaged or destroyed or paying overtime to other employees in order to maintain production levels.
Being Smarter Than Shortcuts
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland has stated: “Workplace injuries routinely cost employers nine to ten times more than anticipated.”
When compared to that kind of setback, the costs of maintaining equipment and enforcing safety policies to prevent accidents before they happen starts to look like a figurative drop in the bucket.
Plus, employers who cut corners liable to receive one of the 40,000-something citations the Occupational Safety & Health Administration slaps business owners with each year. These often come about as a result of neglected safety procedures in things like respiratory protection, fall protection, and the unsafe use of ladders and scaffolding equipment. These fines can reach into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars – and that’s without anyone even actually being injured!
The long and short of it is that you’re playing with fire when you don’t adhere to safety standards, and it’s more common than you might think that you’ll end up getting burned for it. Be smart; think of your business, think of your employees.
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