OSHA’s Business Case for Employee Health and Safety

We talk a lot about employee safety, particularly within the confines of forklifts. But OSHA has compiled plenty of information that demonstrates it is more profitable in the long-run for companies to invest in health, wellness and safety programs for their employees. Just like forklift operator safety training, investing in other aspects of your employee’s job safety and overall health, your company reaps the rewards of less sick time, improved performance and productivity, and yes, profits. Following is OSHA’s business case:

Employers that invest in workplace safety and health can expect to reduce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. This will result in cost savings in a variety of areas, such as lowering workers’ compensation costs and medical expenses, avoiding OSHA penalties, and reducing costs to train replacement employees and conduct accident investigations. In addition, employers often find that changes made to improve workplace safety and health can result in significant improvements to their organization’s productivity and financial performance.

The following resources provide background on the economic benefits of workplace safety and health and how safety managers and others may demonstrate the value of safety and health to management.

Management Views on Investment in Workplace Safety and Health
  • Y.H. Huang, T.B. Leamon, et al. “Corporate Financial Decision-Makers’ Perceptions of Workplace Safety.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 767-775 (2007). This study reviewed how senior financial executives perceived workplace safety issues. The executives believed that money spent improving workplace safety would have significant returns. The perceived top benefits of effective workplace safety and health programs were increased productivity, reduced cost, retention, and increased satisfaction among employees.
Return on Investment in Workplace Safety and Health
  • Building a Safety Culture: Improving Safety and Health Management in the Construction Industry. Dodge Data and Analytics, CPWR, and United Rentals, (2016). Includes a section on the impact of safety practices and programs on business factors, such as budget, schedule, return on investment, and injury rates.
  • Business of Safety Committee. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). This committee gathers data, prepares documents, and is a source of professional information on ASSE’s efforts to show that investment in safety, health, and the environment is a sound business strategy. This page includes links to a variety of resources on the return on safety investment.
  • The ROI of EHS: Practical Strategies to Demonstrate the Business Value of Environmental, Health, and Safety Functions (PDF). Business and Labor Reports, (2006). Reviews strategies to help EHS professionals demonstrate the value of their programs to executive management.
  • White Paper on Return on Safety Investment. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), (June 2002). Concludes that there is a direct, positive correlation between investment in safety, health, and the environment and its subsequent return on investment.
  • Return on Investment. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Provides information on the return on investment in workplace safety and health.
  • Demonstrating the Business Value of Industrial Hygiene (PDF). American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), (May 2008). Provides guidance on how industrial hygienists can show that they provide organizations with competitive business advantages.
  • Construction Solutions Return on Investment Calculator. CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. Helps evaluate the financial impact of new equipment, materials, or work practices introduced to improve safety.
  • Safety Grant Best Practices. Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Grants Intervention Program. Case studies on the effectiveness of investment in safety equipment, including reduced incident rates and return on investment information.
  • Anthony Veltri, Mark Pagell, Michael Behm, and Ajay Das. “A Data-Based Evaluation of the Relationship Between Occupational Safety and Operating Performance” (PDF) Journal of SH&E Research Vol.4, No. 1 (Spring 2007). Results of study of 19 manufacturing firms supports theory that good safety performance is related to good operating performance.
  • R. Fabius, RD Thayer, DL Konicki, et al, “The link between workforce health and safety and the health of the bottom line: tracking market performance of companies that nurture a “culture of health.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 55, No. 9 (2013), pp. 993-1000. Companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce may yield greater value for their investors. See Abstract and Press Release.
Tools for Calculating Economic Benefits of Workplace Safety and Health
    • $afety Pays. OSHA. Interactive software that assists employers in assessing the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. It uses a company’s profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need to generate to cover those costs.
    • Safety Pays in Mining. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Estimates the total costs of workplace injuries to a company in the mining industry and the impact of profitability.

Journal Articles

Michael Behm, Anthony Veltri, and Ilene Kleinsorge. “The Cost of Safety: Cost analysis model helps build business case for safety.” Professional Safety (April 2004). Presents a cost analysis model that can help safety, health, and environmental professionals measure, analyze, and communicate safety strategies in business terms.

“Proceedings From the Economic Evaluation of Health and Safety Interventions at the Company Level Conference.” Journal of Safety Research Vol. 36, No. 3(2005), pages 207-308. These articles describe several tools currently used by companies to evaluate the economic impact of safety and health interventions.

Susan Jervis and Terry R. Collins. “Measuring Safety’s Return on Investment.” Professional Safety (September 2001). To address the challenge of maintaining effective safety programs in the face of cutbacks, the authors discuss a decision tool to help safety managers determine which program elements offer the best return on investment.

Impact of OSHA Inspections
  • D. Levine, M. Toffel, and M. Johnson, “Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss.” Science, Vol. 336, No. 6083, pp. 907-911 (May 18, 2012). A 2012 study concluded that inspections conducted by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reduce injuries with no job loss. The study showed a 9.4% drop in injury claims and a 26% average savings on workers’ compensation costs in the four years after a Cal/OSHA inspection compared to a similar set of uninspected workplaces. On average, inspected firms saved an estimated $355,000 in injury claims and compensation paid for lost work over that period. There was no evidence that these improvements came at the expense of employment, sales, credit rating, or firm survival. See Abstract and Press Release.
  • A.M. Haviland, R.M. Burns, W.B. Gray, T. Ruder, J. Mendeloff, “A new estimate of the impact of OSHA inspections on manufacturing injury rates, 1998-2005,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, (May 7, 2012). Found that OSHA inspections with penalties of Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities reduced injuries by an average of 19-24% annually in the two years following the inspection. These effects were not found in workplaces with fewer than 20 or more than 250 employees or for inspections without penalties. See Abstract.
  • M. Foley, Z.J. Fan, E. Rauser, B. Silverstein, “The impact of regulatory enforcement and consultation visits on workers’ compensation incidence rates and costs, 1999-2008.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, (June 19, 2012). Reviewed changes in workers’ compensation claims rates and costs for Washington state employers having either an inspection, with or without a citation, or an On-site Consultation Program visit. The study concluded that enforcement activities were associated with a significant drop in claims incidence rates and costs and that similar results may also be attributable to Consultation visits. See Abstract.
Making the Business Case for Process Safety Management
  • Business Case for Process Safety. American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). CCPS developed a brochure and presentation to help companies demonstrate the business case for process safety management.
Relationship Between Injury Rates and Survival of Small Businesses
  • Theresa Holizki, Larry Nelson, and Rose McDonald. “Injury Rates as an Indicator of Business Success.” Industrial Health Vol. 44(2006), pages 166-168. Study of new small businesses that registered with the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia. A statistical correlation was found between workplace safety and health and the survival of a small business. Businesses that failed within one to two years of start-up had an average injury rate of 9.71 while businesses that survived more than five years had an average injury rate of 3.89 in their first year of business.
Other Resources

Learn more about Apex Material Handling and our Forklift Operator Safety Training programs in Chicago and West Chicago. Contact us to inquire further or schedule your training at 888-530-1832.

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5 Tips to Help Reduce Heat-Related Illnesses in Your Materials Handling Operation

The hot summer months are upon us. With increased heat and humidity workers become more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Workers who are not accustomed to working in the heat can quickly become ill and experience heat stroke, which can lead to serious illness and even death. Since your forklift operators will frequently work outside and on equipment that utilizes internal combustion engine, part of your forklift operator training, should be awareness of heat illness.

There are a few things to keep in mind about heat-related illness and what you can do to help prevent it in your workers.

  1. Train your employees about the dangers of heat-related illnesses. OSHA has excellent training information and materials to help you relate this information to all of your employees who work in the heat.  Part of that training should be to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and to act upon them immediately. Never brush it off and continue working. The symptoms exist for a reason!
  2. Understand that all employees are not equally able to resist the heat. Employees should be able to assess their own conditioning and how well they handle heat. Employees who are taking certain prescription medications or have certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, need to pay special attention to how they feel while working. Employees who are new to outdoor jobs are often most susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Try to ease them into the normal workload gradually, until you’re confident they are acclimated.
  3. Provide additional water stations during the hotter months, at more convenient locations, and encourage employees to drink water every 15 minutes or so, based on temperature. Never wait until you are thirsty to start re-hydrating.
  4. Provide for more frequent breaks. In the long run employees will be more productive in the heat if they are getting proper rest to allow their bodies to cool down while also keeping themselves better hydrated during these breaks.
  5. Proper ventilation and air movement inside your warehouse or material handling facility is very important in keeping the temperature at safe levels and your workers cool. Ceiling fans, screen doors for warehouse dock doors, and roof vents are great ways to keep your facility comfortable and more productive.

OSHA has provided a wealth of information to help you provide a safe atmosphere to deal with the summer heat. While OSHA does not have a standard pertaining to preventing heat illnesses, it is up to us to be sure we have done everything that we can to help our employees stay safe and avoid heat-related illnesses.

Well-trained and equipped employees are more productive employees. Keeping them safe from the heat during the summer months ensures better productivity for tomorrow and years beyond. But it is ultimately up to us as the employers to be sure our employees are prepared to understand and act accordingly to ensure their own safety.


Celebrating Forklift Safety Day

Forklift Safety Day Logo

The Industrial Truck Association has announced it’s second annual Forklift Safety Day, to be held Tuesday, June 14.

While most of you won’t be able to attend, there are things you can do to take advantage of this day to help create awareness about the dangers that forklifts present and how to minimize the potential for accidents that can result in injury or death, damage to your facility, equipment and financial losses.

We’ve compiled a short list of things you can do on June 14th to improve safety on and around your forklifts.

  1. Make sure all your forklift operators have been trained and that their refresher training is up to date, if applicable or necessary.
  2. Download our “Forklift Operator Questionnaire” to help you vet new operators about their actual experience and history with forklifts.
  3. Take time to teach your forklift operators the importance of daily inspections of their forklifts. Daily inspections reduce the risk of equipment failure and catch small problems before they blossom into giant ones. You can find daily forklift inspection sheets on our Training Page for both IC and electric units.
  4. Download and post our free forklift safety posters that you can find on our Training Page.
  5. Take some time to gather any staff that operates around forklifts, but not on them, to refresh them about the dangers of this equipment and how to be sure to use safe procedures when they are in an area of your facility where forklifts are being operated.
  6. Make sure all your forklift’s maintenance is up to date. If you have a Planned Maintenance Agreement, this would be a good time to review it with your service provider to ensure all standard checkpoints as well as unique equipment attachments are being inspected and maintained properly.
  7. Review any unique “site specific” features your facility may have and be sure your operators are aware of proper handling of equipment while on or around these features (ramps, areas where floors can be slick, floor substrates that vary etc…)
  8. Make sure that training is part of your company’s orientation for anyone that will or MIGHT operate a forklift. Remember, employees that have not been properly trained aren’t even allowed to sit on and start a forklift, much less move it out of the way of anything.
  9. Make sure you forklifts have proper safety equipment and that it’s operating properly. Lights, horns, back-up alarms, seat belts, fire extinguishers etc… Check out our Blue Safety Light for pedestrian safety enhancement.
  10. Make sure you have lock-out kits to ensure that forklifts that do not pass an inspection are locked out immediately until repairs are made.
  11. Review all your forklifts for possible replacement. Old forklifts, or those that are getting “up there” in hours, might be potential threats. Review safety records and maintenance logs for your equipment. You might find this could be a good time to replace some or even all of your forklifts.-

Our goal is to help you operate safe, efficient and productive forklift equipment. To discuss forklift safety, operator training, or to get a quote on new equipment, please Contact Us or give us a call at 888-530-1832.