By: Tania Fiero, PHR, VP of Human Resources

The National Safety Council recently published that almost 13,000 American workers are injured every day on the job.  It gets worse.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their study this spring regarding workplace injuries resulting in deaths in 2015 and there were 4836, the highest since 2008.  That’s 13 workers per day on average don’t return home to their families.   If you’d like to learn more about these statistics click here.  

In celebration of National Safety Month, I thought it would be timely to write about the reasons why companies should make employee safety a priority and what you can do to improve your safety program.

Why does a safe work environment make cents?  (You notice my play on words?)

  • It’s the law! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that enforces the OSH Act, requiring employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace. Should your company receive a visit from OSHA, they may choose to issue citations if violations of OSHA standards or regulations were observed.  To research these regulations click here.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance Costs – All companies are required to carry workers compensation insurance coverage. Workers compensation is a mandatory insurance for companies with employees that covers the cost of medical treatment in the event of a workplace injury or illness, covers employees lost wages in the event they are not able to return to work, and covers the cost of litigation should an injured worker sue the company for negligence.  Workers compensation insurance varies based on the industry of the company, the position of the worker, and the state in which the employee is working.  Another factor which should not be discounted is the company’s safety record and claims experience.  Companies with a culture of safety and low level of injuries will have lower premiums than companies that ignore safety best practices and a high level of injuries.  Workers compensation premiums are charged by $100 of payroll so for example, an employee working for a law firm may cost the law firm $0.62 per $100 of payroll in workers compensation premium, whereas an inventory specialist in a warehouse for a large retail distributer may be much higher at $3.32 per $100 of payroll.
  • Employee Morale – Not surprisingly, employees that notice unsafe work environments are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. The Society for Human Resources Management estimates that the costs of turnover can range from 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. (SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series, Retaining Talent, A Guide to Analyzing and Managing Employee Turnover by David G. Allen, Ph.D. SPHR).

Having a better understanding of the reasons behind why it makes sense to pursue a strong safety program will help you and your organization define your objectives and measure the success of the program.  There are many ways you can pursue this goal and below I share some of the things you can do to improve your safety program.

What can you do to improve your safety program?

  • Hire an in-house safety expert or consultant – If you don’t have anyone on your staff that can build and manage a new program, there are people who do! We work with several consultants specializing in different areas.
  • Certify your in-house safety person – There are many types of trainings and certifications that are available to educate the person in charge of your safety program. The National Safety Council offers a Principles of Occupational Safety and Health program where attendees can become POSH certified.
  • Make employee safety one of your core values and get employees talking about the importance of safety. There are resources available to communicate these messages.  Check out the National Safety Council at
  • When injuries occur, conduct a thorough investigation. Try to get to the root cause of the injury.  For example, it might be easy to discount an injury in which the employee slipped and fell.  After all, that employee has always been clumsy, right?  What you might discover by doing a thorough investigation is that each day around lunchtime, UPS pushes a delivery cart from outside through the hallway, tracking in snow, and leaving a slippery spot near the same place that your employee slipped and fell.  By purchasing a mat and placing it strategically near the door, you can significantly reduce this risk of future injuries.
  • Provide safety training to your employees. Ok, this may seem obvious, after all, it’s the law.  But companies offering a professional office environment tend to be very lax when it comes to training.  Yet, office ergonomics, or lack thereof, is one of the leading causes of injury to office workers.
  • Measure how you compare against others in your industry and set a goal. The goal should always be 0 injuries!  However any improvement is a step in the right direction.  You can research your industries injury rates through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
  • Research if your industry association has any resources for your organization. In 2013, OSHA and our industry association, the American Staffing Association, joined forces to create the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI), an initiative to provide guidance to companies and staffing firms as to the responsibility of each party related to employee safety.  We’ve communicated their bulletins to our clients and we’ve taken steps to implement new procedures.  For more information on TWI visit

What to do following an employee injury?

  • Provide immediate medical attention if possible – Large companies often provide an on-site clinic where the employee can get immediate care without leaving the facility. Now, smaller companies can offer a similar benefit by partnering with companies like Medcor.  Medcor provides a 24/7 nurse triage call center for companies.  This is a great benefit for employees that are unsure if their injury warrants a trip to the doctor.
  • Show the employee you care – Again, I know this sounds like basic stuff, but don’t forget this step! Offer to drive them to the clinic, help them fill out the forms, show them that you’re concerned!  This is crucial for maintaining a culture of safety and retaining employees.
  • Communicate with the employee about their rights under workers compensation and the status of their job– Many employees have never experienced a worksite injury. They may be worried that you will discipline them, or fire them and replace them with another worker. This is especially true when the employee needs time off from work to heal from their injury.  Employees that have this concern may turn to an attorney and file a lawsuit.  This will certainly drive up the cost of your workers compensation claim.

It’s important for companies to embrace safety as a good business practice, not only do employees deserve to go home safely at the end of their day, culturally and financially an organization benefits from making safety a priority.

If you have any questions regarding our safety program, please call Innovative Employee Solutions at 858-715-5100.  Use this FREE tool – Zurich’s Slip, Trip and Fall Assessment to see how your company ranks in your workplace safety program.


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