Friday, January 09, 2009

ASSE: Reducing or Ignoring Workplace Safety During Business Downturns Costly

The need for safety programs during economic hard times ...

"American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Warren K. Brown, along with ASSE members worldwide, caution employers against cutting back on workplace safety in time of economic difficulty.

“Workplace safety processes must be in place at all times,” said Brown. “They are even more critical during business downturns.”

Brown was referencing recent reports of some companies cutting safety processes hoping to reduce costs. He stressed that if companies believe they can save money by reducing or ignoring worker safety, they are mistaken.

“The ongoing positive results are in and have been for companies that have a strong safety culture and continually invest in and implement effective safety processes,” Brown explained. “Not only does their bottom line benefit positively, but their company reputation stays intact, employees stay safe and healthy reducing health care, workers comp, training and turnover costs, not to mention keeping customers, the communities they do business in, vendors and employees happy. Safety is good business.”

Other ASSE members and officers agree. President-elect of the ASSE South Carolina Chapter Laura Comstock said, “Some safety related purchases and testing can be deferred, but other purchases, such as those for employee personal protective equipment (PPE) like hardhats, safety glasses and respirators, are critical to operations.”

It is especially important for companies to show support for their employee safety during challenging economic times, she noted. “Employee morale may be low and employees may be carrying additional workloads, such as working additional hours or doing unfamiliar tasks due to cutbacks,” she said.

Companies must therefore maintain a solid safety process even through difficult times in order to be remain viable. The most successful companies in the long term, Comstock explained, also have the strongest safety performance.

Investing in Safety

“We realize these are tough times, but during economic down-turns, employers seeking to cut expenses may target variable operating costs such as travel, training and safety,” Brown said. “Money cut from safety processes now could have an enormous cost later; this can be from injury and health care costs, fines, lost production time, employee morale, or worst of all, employee injury or even death. There are better and smarter ways to protect the bottom line."    (Continued via EHS Today, Laura Walter)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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