A Safe Workplace and Your Bottom Line

A Safe Workplace and Your Bottom Line

Whether you’re in construction, manufacturing, transportation or any other industry, you know the importance of workplace safety, especially where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is concerned. OSHA establishes safety standards and guidelines that all employers must follow or risk incurring fines and penalties. But there are more benefits to a safe workplace than just ensuring OSHA compliance. Consider the following hidden values many employers overlook.

Reduced costs from injuries

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers reported more than 3 million work-related injuries in 2013. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations say the BLS figure understates the problem. They put the total between 7.6 and 11.4 million incidents each year—costing employers $250 to $300 billion in direct and indirect losses. Fortunately, they also say that businesses that invest in effective workplace safety programs can save $4 to $6 for every $1 spent as illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline.

Lower worker’s compensation insurance costs

According to the Insurance Information Institute, businesses’ workers’ compensation insurance costs have increased substantially in previous years due to rising medical costs on claims. On top of these unavoidable adjustments, the number of claims paid against your policy will also raise your premiums. When you improve workplace safety, you minimize the chance of increases and may even reduce your costs. Reinvest your savings in additional safety measures and you can continue to keep costs low.

Increased worker productivity

According to OSHA, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in 2013. That’s almost 90 each week, or 13 preventable deaths every day. Such events can traumatize other employees, increasing workplace stress and absenteeism that reduces your company’s productivity and the quality of your product or service.

Of course, deaths aren’t the only issue. Injured employees may have to take medical leave, work shorter hours, or perform reduced duties. This, too, will reduce your company’s productivity. Fortunately, OSHA says businesses that implement effective safety programs operate more efficiently, reducing absenteeism, improving morale and boosting quality.

Lower car insurance premiums

Transportation incidents, including highway crashes, were one of the leading cause of workplace deaths in 2014. Company auto insurance premiums—much like personal auto insurance—increase with every accident. When you implement a workplace safety program that addresses transportation related dangers, you won’t just minimize accidents and protect your employees. You’ll also keep your company’s car insurance premiums low.

Better business reputation

You have a moral as well as legal obligation to protect your employees from accidents in the workplace. If your company develops a reputation for injuries or fatalities, it will affect your ability to attract top talent. It may also impact your chances of securing lucrative contracts and jobs from prospects that are familiar with your track record. When you implement an effective workplace safety program that goes above and beyond OSHA requirements, you protect that valuable reputation—and you can be certain your business will benefit.



Providing Safety Training in Language Employees Understand

Providing Safety Training in Language Employees Understand

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 60.6 million people speak a language other than English in their homes. Of those, 37.6 million speak Spanish. In fact, the U.S. has become the fifth largest Spanish speaking country on the planet.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has become increasingly concerned about the welfare of these non-English speaking workers, noting that immigrant Latino workers, in particular, have a 50 percent higher rate of death on the job. They’ve stepped up their protection efforts, repeatedly reminding employers that all workers much receive safety training in a language they can understand.

Employee comprehension is at the heart of OSHA’s policies. This means that all safety training must take into account the limited vocabulary of workers for whom English is a second language. It must also consider their level of literacy. For example, telling an illiterate worker to read a safety training manual—whether written in their native language or not—will not satisfy your obligation under OSHA rules.

Fortunately, OSHA offers assistance to employers with a Spanish-speaking workforce. Visit the Compliance Assistance Quick Start: Hispanic Outreach tool on the OSHA website to locate Spanish-language resources for compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. You’ll also find links to OSHA’s English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionaries that include more than 2,000 OSHA, general industry and construction industry terms.

Other measures you can take to ensure your staff understands the safety and health hazard information you’re presenting to them include:

  • Use a translator – Hiring a translator to assist with the safety training of employees who speak limited English is less costly than the fines OSHA may impose should an inspector determine you have failed to meet the requirements for compliance.
  • Demonstrate – When talking about proper safety procedures, demonstrate the actions required to complete them. You can also use visual aids such as illustrations to enhance comprehension.
  • Practice – Have your employees practice safety procedures during the training session. This will allow you to access their comprehension and repeat your previous demonstration as needed.

In addition to verifying that employers have provided their workers with workplace safety training, OSHA inspectors are now making sure that training was provided in a language the employees could understand. They may do this by reviewing documentation as well as assessing your worker’s understanding of proper safety procedures. Should they determine workers were not trained using a language or manner they could comprehend, you may be cited with a serious OSHA violation.