It is said that “safety doesn’t happen by accident.” Staying safe has to be a conscious decision, and efforts must be made to ensure that you are well-protected on the job, as well as the workplace.
No one knows this better than safety specialist Randy Burton who, in 2008, found himself living his worst nightmare. Without warning, Burton’s 505 truck suddenly caught fire and the leaping flames engulfed the vehicle’s cabin within moments – while he was inside. Fortunately for him, Burton survived the blaze, albeit with severe burn injuries. “The surgeon asked me what I was wearing that day: Goodfish coveralls. He told me that if I wasn’t wearing FR coveralls, I would have had about 98 percent of my body burned. No one survives that. He said I could thank my coveralls for saving my life,” says Burton.
The incident served to show the importance of flame-resistant (FR) clothing, such as what Burton was wearing that fateful day, in saving lives. It prompted him to take it upon himself to propagate the need for safety. “Since my accident, I have developed a deep passion for safety. Telling my story helps me to heal as well, as it helps the people listening to be more aware of the importance of keeping themselves safe,” adds Burton.
What the Statistics Say
According to the statistics compiled by Canadian workers compensation boards, there were 904 work-related fatalities in 2016. In addition to these, 241,508 claims were received for lost time caused by a work-related disease or injury. It is likely that the number of workers who suffered injuries is higher, since these figures are only incidents that have been reported to the compensation boards, and subsequently accepted.
These numbers serve as a reminder that there are a good number of things that you can do to prioritize safety issues at the workplace. Besides avoiding deaths and injuries, there are some other reasons you need to look at safety measures:
- Corporate Financial Benefits
The aim of a business is to make money and putting in safety measures helps you do this. Accidents at the workplace can result in extremely high insurance and legal costs to your business. A safe workplace will have extremely low rates of injury and illness and this in turn, translates into higher profit margins.
- Enhanced Worker Productivity
Safe workers are happy workers and when people are happy, they tend to perform better. Lower rates of absenteeism and reduced attrition can boost productivity at the organization. Involving your employees in the program by seeking their opinion, and constituting committees for redressal of grievances related to safety issues at the workplace, you are showing them that you care.
- Minimize Damage to Property
Even if there are no injuries to employees, certain accidents such as those involving electrical equipment or other machinery can result in property damages that can be expensive to repair or replace. Training employees well in the use and maintenance of such equipment and machinery can mitigate risks as well as reduce associated costs.
- Improves Service/Quality of Product
The link between quality of service or products and the safety record of the company is a strong one. When employees get to work in a safe environment that is free of distractions and hazards such as debris lying around or entangled wires, they tend to be more focused and thus, quality is assured.
- Protects Corporate Reputation
A company with a good safety record instills confidence in customers and investors alike. This conveys the message that being a company which worries about the health and well-being of its employees it is likely to feel the same way about others too. This enhances the brand value and the good will of the company in the market.
- Retains Customer Loyalty
The safety record of your workplace has an impact on your customers and is not restricted to your company and its employees. When there are a significant number of injuries, the pace of work is affected and you are likely to find it difficult to meet the requirements of your customers. If this happens, you cannot expect your customers to wait around for their orders to be completed and it is likely that they will switch loyalties.
Providing a safe working environment for every employee is the duty and moral responsibility of the employer. While the risks and dangers involved at the workplace will vary depending on the type of industry, it is important for organizations to adhere to the safety regulations and guidelines that pertain to their specific sector for all the reasons outlined here.