Workplace Safety and Economics
It is estimated that over 40 million workers in the United States had to receive emergency medical treatment for workplace-related injuries in the year 2003. This is a staggering number when one considers the efforts most companies have put into maintaining a safe workplace. In modern times, a number of companies have been found liable for injuries sustained in their places of business. There is a relationship that exists between workplace safety and profitability.
Every company, especially those involved in industrial manufacturing, is constantly looking at ways to continuously improve their products and processes. They realize that their profits are directly related to the ways and means by which they produce their products. Unfortunately, too many companies get caught up in drive for higher profits and tend to allow workplace safety to become an afterthought.
The costs associated with operating a large manufacturing facility in America are astounding. Workplace injuries place a massive burden of expense and weakened productivity on a company. These injuries can be reduced with proper planning and careful attention to detail. Most workplace injuries are preventable. There are a number of factors to consider, but maintaining a safe and tidy work area is one of the best ways to prevent injury. Workers, too, have a responsibility in keeping themselves safe from harm.
Workplace injuries place a significant burden on health care providers and insurance companies. As companies continue to pay higher premiums for employee health care, one of the only means available for cost recovery is to increase the prices of the goods they produce. This places the burden of expense on the consumer, and allows companies to ignore the root cause of their workplace injuries. The focus here seems to be on maintaining a healthy relationship with shareholders, and not necessarily on maintaining a healthy workforce.
It is interesting to note that there are record numbers of jobs, especially in the industrial sector, being sent overseas. There are a number of reasons to account for this. One of the most significant reasons is that American companies are able to shave their operating costs down to a fraction of their domestic costs, by capitalizing on cheaper labor in foreign markets. Foreign governments, eager for investment, are all too willing to accommodate the interests of big western business. Far too often, this comes at the expense of workplace safety.
If companies want to be profitable in the long term, they need to reexamine their approach to workplace safety and the health of their workers. Many companies are sending jobs overseas, in order to take advantage of cheap labor and relaxed labor laws. American companies can be both profitable and safety conscious. Through directed education campaigns and preemptive planning, workplace injuries can be reduced in a significant way. Remember: a safe worker is a happy worker, and a happy worker is a productive worker.