There is no doubt that many of us live on the fast-track. It seems that we work harder and harder to move ahead, and American companies do the same. But when managers in a competitive business environment are pressured to make earnings expectations, is worker safety put at risk? That question was recently explored, and the answer is a resounding yes.
In many industries, meeting analyst forecast has become far more important than avoiding losses, or even meeting the prior year’s earnings. A recent study used injury data collected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over a nine-year span, and compared it to earnings data, with a focus on companies that met analysts’ expectations. The study reported a higher incidence of injuries at those firms.
In fact, the findings were profound. During those periods when firms met or barely beat expectations, injury and illness rates were five to 15 percent higher. Higher workloads and cuts in safety-related expenditures were blamed for these numbers. Why? Because when managers believe they are about to miss earnings forecasts, workers are pressured to work harder and longer hours, and they may overexert themselves and ignore safety protocols that slow the work down. Managers may also overlook certain safety-related measures, such as spending their budget on maintenance and employee training.
Although cutting safety costs may help a firm meet its short-term financial goals, the costs of sacrificing safety can be severe. A company may have to pay fines, litigate, and pay much higher insurance and Workers’ Compensation premiums. But the worst consequences fall on the shoulders of injured workers, who could wind up suffering lost wages, lifelong pain, or even fatal injury.If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, call Jeffrey S. Gross, the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at 215-512-1500 or 267-589-0090, or complete our online form for a free consultation. Our office is conveniently located in Philadelphia.