In the day-to-day of managing a facility, you may be focused mostly on maintaining the cleanliness and functionality of your building, particularly as you handle ongoing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Putting greater emphasis on safety, even at companies where employees aren’t obviously at risk, might be more important in terms of bottom-line benefits.
In 2018, workplace injuries cost U.S. companies around $170.8 billion, according to data from the National Safety Council. Aside from direct costs, intangible damage can also diminish a company’s bottom line.
“It may be off their radar, but facilities managers can play an important role in ensuring a safe work environment,” says Jason Borkowski, Senior Manager of Facility Solutions at Staples. “Even small-scale changes can have significant payback.”
Here’s why improvements in safety should be top-of-mind for facilities managers in every company.
Hefty Cost Savings
A single injury requiring medical attention comes with an average price tag of $41,000, according to National Safety Council data. To offset the annual costs of workplace injuries, each U.S. worker would need to produce an additional $1,100 worth of goods or services.
The most expensive types of on-the-job injuries are:
• Motor vehicle accidents (average cost of $78,293 per claim)
• Burns (average cost of $47,878 per claim)
• Falls or slips (average cost of $46,592 per claim)
Along with costs directly related to injuries, companies that fail to ensure employee safety can face steep fines. A single violation — even one that would not typically cause serious injury — could cost a company more than $13,000 in Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) penalties.
Safety policies and procedures are a company’s best protection against injury-related expenses. Businesses that implement comprehensive safety programs can reduce injury- and illness-related costs by up to 40 percent, according to OSHA.
Aside from straightforward medical payouts and fines, intangible costs can also have an impact.
“Companies may need to shut down or repair equipment, hire and train replacement workers, and pay overtime to compensate for lost production,” Borkowski says. Along with these disruptions, he adds, safety incidents can do tremendous damage to a company’s public image.
Implementing strong safety practices can mitigate these risks and the costs associated with them. Organizations that have adopted these practices — for example, by working with OSHA to implement hazard-reduction programs — report 50 percent fewer workdays lost to injuries and illness. They also experience lower costs and less disruption related to accident investigations, and fewer staffing difficulties stemming from sudden, injury-related absences.
If employees believe their workplace is unsafe, they may not feel valued or be as engaged as they could be, Borkowski says. By making safety a priority — and communicating that commitment to employees — companies can boost loyalty and morale.
“If you think about the boards you see in factories and warehouses that show the number of days since someone was injured, it’s easy to imagine that employees would feel very different seeing that it’s been two days since an incident versus 450 days,” Borkowski says. Long injury-free stretches can reassure workers that their well-being matters to their employer.
Investments in safety can also help recruiting efforts. Workplace safety is among the top factors people consider when weighing job offers, a survey by business insurance provider Employers shows, ranking ahead of the quality of potential co-workers and even professional growth opportunities. An engaged, high-performing workforce means higher quality output — which translates to a stronger bottom line.
Shoring up your workplace safety practices makes good business sense —and as a facilities manager, you can make an important contribution to these efforts. The steps you take to prioritize safety not only protect employees, but can also make your organization more profitable.