Health and safety related incidents are more commonplace at work than you may think. According to the International Labour Organization, 153 workers have a work-related accident every 15 seconds.
Think about that for a moment. No matter the industry within which you operate, there is a very real risk that something could go wrong at any given moment. And, from small to significant incidents, the impact on businesses and their employees can be profound.
We think safety risks for businesses fall broadly into two categories. There are the obvious risks – which bear repeating – and then there are those that can easily be overlooked but which can have far deeper, long-lasting effects on organizations.
Let’s dig in further.
Obvious safety risks
When something goes wrong within a business, there are certain risks to the business and its employees which are rather obvious, but whose impact can be significant. For that reason, they should always be at the top of our minds.
- Fatality. Few of us head to work expecting to risk death, and, thankfully, the US is experiencing a downward trend in fatalities relating to workplace incidents. The fact remains, however, that 4,821 people died at work in 2014, and that’s still a frighteningly large number.
- Injuries. From manufacturing incidents to office-based mishaps, injuries can have a lasting impact on both the workforce and the business itself. Just one single accident can result in countless days off the job and a very real impact on productivity.
- Property damage. An employee’s health is of course the primary concern for businesses, but the premises often come off pretty badly when something goes wrong, too. Property and infrastructure damage as the result of workplace incidents can prove very costly to repair and is rarely budgeted for.
The less obvious risks to your business
Not every safety risk jumps out as being obvious. We think there are 3 that lurk beneath the surface during any work-related accident or injury. They can eat away at a business and cause significant damage if not acted upon in a timely fashion.
- Loss of reputation. We now live in a world where both the media and consumers at large are more than capable of making or breaking a company’s reputation. With numerous channels of communication to choose from when it comes to making one’s point about an incident at work, loss of reputation can take place incredibly quickly. One angry tweet gone viral or disgruntled blog post leaked to the press can have lasting effects from which few organizations fully recover.
- Increased financial burden. Reports suggest that US companies pay an estimated $62 billion per year for work place injuries. Rising insurance premiums, compensation costs and the investment required to fill gaps left as a result of absence are rarely budgeted for and, as a result, can be a huge drain on financial resources.
- Indirect workforce risks. The result of workplace health and safety incidents extends far beyond any injury incurred. Indirect risks include a decrease in morale, increased staff turnover and assumptions made about the organization’s commitment to health and safety, regardless of how accurate they may be.
If there’s one takeaway above, it is the potential loss of reputation businesses may suffer when safety incidents take place. Revenue is directly tied to reputation, and customers have plenty of alternative options if they’re given reason to switch loyalties.
None of us should forget the obvious safety risks businesses face, but those that aren’t quite as obvious must also be kept front and center throughout any EH&S planning and management.
Learn more about safety risks in our whitepaper: New Technology Trends & Corporate Safety