Safe Work Practices Pay Dividends

The savings that will result from actively practicing safety in the workplace is difficult to precisely define because you never know exactly what variables should be used, or how to gauge the costs for many of the different variables that would be needed to calculate those savings. We can always try, but in the end it's a WAG (wild guess). As a consequence, most individuals can only get their arms around how much might be spent to adopt safe work practices in a limited fashion, which might include a cost for defining specific risks, costs for supplies including personal protective equipment and costs for training to address the defined risks. The result may often lead to a perception that safety is a cost. It is, but it's a cost you can budget for and work with, and if accidents are avoided, it becomes a savings or like having safety insurance.

The often ignored and undefined costs of accidents and injuries can be very expensive too. Most firms might agree that if accidents occur, there is certainly a cost, but that cost is not normally included in any budget in advance of an unfortunate occurrence. Firms almost never ever consider that the costs that will result from an accident often far exceed what might have been spent to support safe working practices and avoidance of the accident in the first place. If there isn't some requirement that demands consideration of safety, it's not uncommon for the need to be rationalized away. "We are always careful, so we don't really need to worry," or "accidents usually happen to someone else" or "we can wait and take care of it later during the job." Remember, once an accident occurs, you can't undo the past.

Let's look at what potential costs might be encountered from an unanticipated accident. We say unanticipated accident when there really aren't any accidents that were planned, because the real point is you suffer having to deal with unbudgeted costs. Insurance coverage may reduce those costs some, but be real, there will always be uninsured costs, not to mention potential future increases in insurance rates. Remember time is money. A few potential considerations resulting from occurrence of accidents are:

  • Potential reputational damage to your firm/personnel………a real cost, but difficult to assess.
  • Disruption of work activities and schedules……….often a significant cost.
  • Lost time preparing and submitting paperwork …..…always a difficult to control cost.
  • Medical services…………sometimes significant cost.
  • Potential regulatory complications …………sometimes significant costs.
  • Insurance rate impacts………often a gift that keeps on giving (actually taking).
  • These are the most obvious considerations, but be assured, there will always be more.

The important take-away here is, that eliminating the above considerations through safe working practices, is a solid investment that will pay dividends.

Now let's consider what potential costs might be related to adopting safe work practices. These costs can be managed and built into normal budgets and is considered a normal cost of business that gets built into rates and passed on to clients. This is an expected cost that clients will welcome because your unplanned accidents will affect their anticipated operations and schedules also.

A few potential considerations are:

  • Hire previously safety trained workers………… might as well take advantage of potential workers who join your team already appreciating/understanding benefits of a safety culture. That is a cost savings that smart firms take advantage of consistently.
  • raining………coordinate the safety understanding across your entire team. This brings efficiency to work operations.
  • Use formal tools to risk assess all jobs to scope safety needs. ……….this helps to plan and budget projects for smoother more efficient operations. Use a tool such as found at to develop job safety analyses (JSA, also known as JHA, job hazard analyses). Development of JSAs will help in development of proper scopes, budgets and work plans. An inadequate scope leads to inadequate budgets that may need to be supplemented during a job which is always very unpopular with clients. Afterall, the client will have to suffer the embarrassment of justifying the supplement to their management. The best policy for your clients is, "no surprises," which results from a good thorough planning process and a safe workplace.
  • At the start of any job, have conditions changed from when your JSA was conducted? If so, use a Management of Change process to risk assess then communicate changes to your team to help them work safely.

Remember to stress that safety is a 24-hour per day effort, and that workers can't simply turn-on safe working attitudes when they come to work. Believe in a safe work philosophy…….build a strong safety culture and save.

To help plan your next project and risk assess the planned work tasks, try for FREE. Discover this outstanding JHA/JSA software that will help your team work safely and go home at the end of each work day without harm. If you have distributed workforce, they can use to create a library of JSAs which then are available online to be modified and/or shared across your team. Follow JSABuilder on Twitter @JSABuilder, where we tweet about Health and Safety, post Safety tips, and provide updates on current Health and Safety topics.

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Note: images, links, brands discussed or displayed in this article are not endorsements or recommendations. They are for illustration of various products and types of products. JSABuilder does not recommend products, does not endorse, or express any opinion as to the applicability to any given use case or job hazard. Again, consult your safety professional to obtain opinions on applicability, selection and fitting of all the various types of PPE, then work smart and safe.