With all of the issues that cross a small business owner’s desk in a day, it is inevitable that some of those tasks get pushed to the bottom of the list indefinitely. Unfortunately for many small businesses, focusing on safety is one of the things that often gets put off. There is often a perception that focusing on safety will be expensive, time-consuming, and unproductive. But the fact is the exact opposite is actually true. Investing in a safety focused culture will actually save your company time and money and increase your productivity and competitive advantage.
Research done by McGraw Hill Construction provides evidence of this. According to their research, there are many positive impacts of focusing on safety practices including a better reputation in the industry, workers proactively reporting unsafe conditions, lower reportable injury rates, ability to contract new work, and improved project quality. Some additional benefits that likely attribute to these are reduced overall injury rates, reduced costs as a result of reduced risk, less rework, more on-time completion of projects, improved employee morale and enhanced productivity.
Some of the additional findings in the research include:
- Over 50% of the businesses reported that their safety program has a positive ROI and only 5% reported that their safety programs had a negative ROI.
- 46% of the businesses reported that safety practices help them to retain employees
So what can a small business owner do to start to see some of these benefits?
First, commit to regular safety discussions with your employees. Weekly or daily safety meetings (depending on your industry) can keep employees thinking about safety, which has been shown to dramatically reduce injuries. This commitment to regular safety meetings (attended by leadership) also demonstrates to your employees that you are committed to their safety and gives you an opportunity to hold them accountable for their behavior. Our Risk Management team can provide you with resources for these meetings. Contact us for more information.
Second, consider putting together an employee safety committee. This can be a great way for your employees to provide their ideas about ways they could make their business processes safer and more productive. Often the safest way to do something is also the most profitable. This open door environment will not only bring new ideas to the table for safety, but other areas of the business as well. Asking for employee ideas has also been shown to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Third, invest in appropriate safety equipment. Again, this is often seen as an added expense, but as the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Having up-to-date safety equipment for your employees once again demonstrates your commitment to the safety program. It shows that you are not comfortable with cutting corners to save a few dollars. This makes your employees more comfortable spending the time and effort to do things the safest way.
Finally, make safety a part of your regular business discussions. Think about the impact business decisions will have on safety. Consider how company safety impacts your organization’s goals and share that with your employees. It isn’t just about ROI or increasing profits. It really is about making sure your employees make it home safe to their families each night.
It is impossible to eliminate all risk, but if employees see that company leadership is committed to safety and seeking their input on how to minimize and control risk, there will be improved productivity, morale and of course safety. We can provide resources and support for clients to help develop a safety focused culture, but commitment from the business owner will be the key to success.
We have also created an infographic with information about safety focused leadership.
Reed Balls is the Safety Director for A Plus Benefits Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 443-1090.