Gary Escott is the co-founder of SiteZone Safety, he has worked in the field of mobile plant safety for 15 years and has worked on the introduction of technology based safety products across other sectors. His goal is reducing the risk of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable persons using innovative products and technology.
The brand value of good safety
I’d like to consider for a moment the good business sense of sound safety practice. We are very proud of our own product, SiteZone - its performance, and the difference it makes to workers daily working lives. However, I think we shouldn’t forget the other long term business benefits of encouraging good safety culture generally. Having a robust health and safety programme can be a real boon to your organisation – positively impacting workers, reputation, investment and commercial engagement. It’s more influential than we think.
Reduction in safety warnings and fines
How often do we read about the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) inspections and ensuing fines? Their ongoing campaign to tighten up on safety, especially in at-risk industries like construction, means that many businesses are forced to pay hefty fines for safety failings. In the HSE’s 2018 health & safety reports, they issued 8942 enforcement notices. Between 2013 to 2018 there was a total of £72.6m of fines payable for health and safety breaches, some from very large organisations. As we know, the relationship between health and safety is inextricable, so it just makes more financial sense to be more diligent in both areas and safeguard workers wellbeing.
Engagement and safety culture
When employers make safety a companywide issue, it turns out to be a very effective cultural game changer. Speak to employees about their safety concerns, encourage them to be invested in the safety development of the company- ‘you watch my back and I’ll watch yours’. No idea should be dismissed, no concern swept aside.
There was a study carried out in the US in 2006 about the importance of employee engagement. It showed that if employees are engaged, they are five times less likely to get hurt and seven times less likely to have an injury requiring absence than all other categories of employees. Furthermore, they cost the company one sixth of what other employees cost regarding insurance, litigation, sick pay and even fines.
The other way to look at this, is if employees feel valued, they’re happier, more productive and less likely to leave. They want to be at work - absenteeism is likely to reduce. The long term upside is better staff retention and preserving and growing the company’s most valuable skill sets.
Everybody likes a winner
If your company is excelling, with a good reputation for looking after its staff, then word travels. Employees talk about their work environment, and if they have something good to report, especially in high risk industries where safety really matters, then the company reputation benefits. In turn, not only do you attract a better calibre of new employee, but the knock-on effects could influence potential investors and other key stakeholders to the advantage of the company - they want to back a good bet.
Save on insurance premiums
If you’re a good and careful driver, who doesn’t make any claims, then it’s reflected in your insurance. It’s not that much different for a business. If your risks are minimal, and you demonstrate diligence in all the key areas that might affect your insurance coverage, then you may save on premiums. The HSE even discusses the possible insurance advantages in relation to health & safety. It says, “Maintaining a good standard of health and safety in the workplace can mean lower insurance premiums and more money in the bank.”
While employers can insure against accidents, injuries and some third-party accidents, I must point out that there’s quite a lot that insurance doesn’t address, however. The HSE lists those circumstances as sick pay, lost time, damage or loss of product and raw materials, repairs to plant and equipment, overtime working and temporary labour, production delays, insurance investigation time, fines, loss of contracts, legal costs and loss of reputation.
Regardless, what all of the above points to, is a requirement for companies to think long and hard about the worth of their staff and their reputation. They must carry out a corporate risk assessment and decide where their priorities lie when it comes to health and safety.
For the lack of forethought, listening and activity, a lot could be lost. When in fact, there is potential to gain a multitude for the improvement of your business. Don’t let apathy be your ruination and cause your employees’ regret.
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