According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 4,405 American workers dies on the job in 2013. Many of these deaths involved workers involved in workplace conditions that were either unsafe or actions taken by a worker that resulted in a fatality.
Although the rate of injury and death occurring the job has been reduced significantly from a rate of 38 deaths a day to around 12 as of the last fiscal year (October 1 – September 30), much more work has to be done to ensure that every workplace is a safe one for workers.
The concept of sustainability involves the creation of a safe, healthy and functional workplace. From this definitional standpoint provide by the Society for Human Resource Management, sustainability and workplace safety are one in the same. Why then is workplace safety as essential to good business practices as sustainability? Here are 3 reasons to consider.
Creating a Safe Workplace is the Right Thing to Do
From an ethical standpoint, having a safe workplace environment is what you should strive toward as an employer. A code that has driven all societies throughout time is that of doing or causing no harm to others. As applied to the workplace, this means putting in place those principles and practices that ensure that worker safety is first and foremost above all else that your business organization stands for.
A Safe Workplace is Smart Business
A safe workplace is not just reducing injury and fatalities but also caring for the well-being of your workers while accomplishing your business goals and objectives. As an example, a reduction of stress in the workplace has a direct correlation to the number of days off a worker may take off due to emotional duress and stress related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention job stress can lead to other types of injuries such as loss of appetite, exhaustion and mental fatigue can lead to accidents and possible death on the job.
Workers suffering from job related stress with no outlet to relieve such stress reduce your company’s overall productivity and output and cost companies between $200 and $300 billion annually. Workers who experience stress due to a workplace not deemed safe or sustainable to their mental health cost 40 percent than workers who do not experience stress on the job.
Workplace Safety is the Law
The bottom line regarding workplace safety and sustainability is that you as an employer must have a plan in place that ensures the safety of your workers. This is the law and the basis for agencies such as OSHA, which exist to ensure that you are meeting applicable industry standards and best practices to protect your workers. Just meeting the requirements, or letter of the law, will permit you to provide a safe and sustainable workplace for all of your workers.
Of course simply meeting OSHA standards should not be your goal but rather the bare minimum you strive to achieve. Exceeding applicable standards and employing those practices of successful peer companies in your industry should be the brass ring you reach for as you dually achieve both sustainability and safety.