• In the Bargain (safety programs)
  • January 14, 2005
  • Law Firm: McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC - New Orleans Office
  • According to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), businesses are realizing that the importance of safety programs goes beyond regulatory and compliance issues. Reducing the risk of workplace accidents can save companies significant amounts of money. "Safety has a major impact on workers' compensation losses, especially when you focus on actual costs," say ASSE members Kim Arnold, Dirk Duchscherer, and Steven NyBlom in a recent article. They say the effect is particularly noticeable in a "hard" insurance market, when premium rates are high.

    In "hard" markets corporations use safety programs to cut claims and reduce insurance costs. Their article cited a 2001 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company report that found 61 percent of executives say $3 or more is saved for each $1 invested in workplace safety.

    Education can bring about a safety culture, the article said, if employees at all levels are involved in the process. It recommends employers establish structures for handling and preventing workplace injuries and illnesses through effective safety, health and environmental programs.

    Another source suggests a multi-step approach to breaking the costly pattern of accident repetition. The company must develop a systematic safety and accident reduction policy, figure out what it wants to accomplish, and secure the support of top management. Bob Russell, of Strategic Safety Associates of Portland, Oregon, says management should "publish a clear statement so that everyone understands how the company will operate, develop ways to flag problems, evaluate factors and trends, orient and coach all levels of leadership and management, intervene with repeaters, follow up and adjust."