The Benefits of OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program Make it a Good Investment
Even though the numbers of workplace injuries and deaths have decreased by over 60 percent since the Occupational and Health Act became law in 1970, there are still many preventable occupational deaths. According to federal statistics, 4,500 workers lose their lives each year on the job, and 4.1 million become injured or seriously ill due to job accidents or working conditions. Employers have a way to provide a safer workplace for their employees: OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The program is designed to assist employers in recognizing potential hazards before an accident can occur, and to help provide managers and employees with the knowledge and tools needed to prevent injuries and illness.
The Benefits of OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program- Make it a Good Investment
This is a sound investment for every aspect of business. Workplace injuries and illnesses have not only emotional and physical costs, but also are a significant financial burden on businesses in terms of worker's compensation and fines. The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety reported in a 2010 study that the cost of the worst occupational injuries in 2008 alone was $51.3 billion.
Plus there are indirect costs — things that are not as obvious — to consider:
- Replacement costs for damaged premises and equipment/machinery.
- Costs due to work stoppage when an accident occurs and if there is an investigation.
- Lost productivity from recovering workers and/or training and hiring replacements.
- Administrative costs to document the accident and follow-up with the affected employee(s).
OSHA reviewed the safety records of eight states in which safety programs were required or encouraged through worker's compensation programs. These states had workplace accident reductions ranging from 9.4 percent (Washington) to 63 percent (Texas). They also found that California, Hawaii and Washington reduced their occupational fatality rates to as low as 31 percent below 2009's national average.
Businesses are diverse and come in all sizes, so a cookie-cutter program is not recommended. However, OSHA guidelines can be scaled and adapted to fit the needs of any business. Small businesses may be interested in a smaller, low-cost SHARP program, for instance. Almost all good programs have the same elements, each of which is essential and interdependent on the other elements.
- The leadership of managers and supervisors who practice what they preach.
- Workers are educated and active participants in all aspects of the safety program.
- Hazards are identified and assessed for solutions and/or preventative measures.
- The most successful OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Programs evaluate the program elements on a regular basis, always looking for what works well and what could use improvement.
It is clear that implementing an OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Program can be effective in preventing costly injuries and devastating fatalities. The most successful programs involve everyone; executives, managers and employees. These workplaces are more efficient, productive and safe. The financial benefits are numerous, as the direct costs of accidents are avoided, but so are indirect costs that also affect the bottom line. Over time, businesses will also see a reduction in worker’s compensation premiums. These programs are a solid investment for every consideration.