Going Beyond Compliance – Prevention Pays!
Does your safety program (commonly referred to in California as an Injury, Illness and Prevention Plan or IIPP) lend itself towards compliance with state and federal OSHA standards? Or does it focus on protecting your most valuable asset, your employees? Which is most important?
So much of today’s efforts in safety are centered on compliance and not what really needs to be done to protect your human capital. Now, I am not saying we ignore compliance. Compliance is important and if you don’t meet OSHA requirements heavy fines can be levied. As we all know, dealing with Cal – OSHA has not gotten any easier these past few years. They are less forgiving and more aggressive than ever.
My point is that all this emphasis on compliance has taken the attention away from doing what truly protects your workers from injury/illness. I urge you to go beyond compliance. Put measures in place to actually protect your employees from injury and illness. The truth is the integration of meeting OSHA requirements and establishing employee safety & wellness programs is what will ultimately protect your human capital, and your wallet.
The first step in integrating OSHA and wellness is to actively engage the workers. Many companies have done this by creating safety incentive programs, in some cases a company lunch quarterly for not having any claims, or in another company’s case “safety bingo” where all employees lose their bingo card if a claim is filed. If no claims are filed, employees win a variety of prizes. Each company is unique so this type of plan will vary accordingly.
Another example – at one manufacturing facility I am involved with, all the employees are required to perform a series of stretching and strengthening exercises before and during the work day. This reduces the possibility of ergonomics claims. Programs centered on ergonomics and physical therapies are especially important in companies with long term employees.
Finally, consider tying supervisors pay (bonus) with the safety performance of the employees he or she supervises.
Most injuries and accidents in the workplace occur because of unsafe conduct. Through a series of actions that implement preventative practices, you communicate the importance of safe behavior to your employees. Over time this will develop into a proud tradition for them. In return your insurance costs will be driven lower.
Currently, there is over $15 billion spent on workers’ compensation annually for employers in California. Companies that have hired safety consultants to create wellness plans and safety training have, in most cases, reduced their workers comp costs by over 50%. For employers concerned with the cost of implementing the training needed, the State of California provides millions of dollars in training funds each year. Last year alone California approved 224 new training projects amounting to $86.1 million. Go to www.trainingfundingsource.com for assistance in obtaining these funds.
Per the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, “Every $1 invested in workplace safety results in $3 or more in savings.” Safety is an investment, not a cost.