The Case for Industrial Safety Training
How comprehensive is your training program?
Statistics show that the single largest cause of accident and injury in the work place is human error. People sometimes doing things they know they shouldn’t, sometimes not knowing they shouldn’t, and sometimes not doing things they know they should. These are all classic cases of human error. These are the sins of commission (you did it), ignorance (you didn’t know), and omission (you knew but didn’t do what you should have).
Safety training programs have real business value
The first step in getting people to do what they should is to educate them – comprehensively and frequently. When a business invests in safety training, injury claims drop almost 10%; workers’ comp costs drop 26%. Those savings averaged out to approximately the same as $355,000 in injury claims and workers’ comp paid out over a 4 year period for the companies involved in the 2012 study done by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Nationally, work related injuries cost employers $192 billion in 2007. 1
Companies that inadequately managed workplace safety and safety training performed worse financially than companies who did. 60% of CFO’s reported in a survey that for every $1 spent on injury prevention, there was a return of $2 or more. 44% of those surveyed stated that productivity was the top benefit of effective workplace safety programs.
Obtaining effective safety training programs
There are a wide variety of sources of safety training available on the internet. You may decide to create a safety trainer position and have that person do all the employee training. Or your HR department may be tasked with seeing that training is completed at particular intervals using purchased training DVD’s, CD-ROM’s or online courses. Even hiring a training firm or safety consultant is an option. What’s really important is that your employees receive training in key areas:
- Workplace Safety
- Substance Abuse
- Equipment Safety
In addition to these topics, employees should be trained in their specific job areas for topics such as:
- Emergency Response
- Dock & Warehouse Safety
- Food Industry Security
Compare the cost of investing in safety to the cost of death or injury
Remember that $355,000 savings in injury claims and worker’s comp paid out over 4 years? For about 10% of that, you could have a safety training program that covers all the topics that apply to your business and operations (and that’s a high estimate). Oh, and we haven’t even added in the performance improvement safety training adds to the bottom line. What was that number? A two to one ratio. If you invested $35,000 into safety training materials, your return would approximate $70,000 in financial gains.
“How does that happen?” you ask. It’s simple – when people know what they should be doing, what they shouldn’t be doing, and where to go for answers when they don’t know, they become more confident, decisive in the right ways, and less prone to make stupid mistakes that cost the company time and money.
They become more productive because they understand the risks and hazards of their work environment and are more careful to prevent those niggling little errors that stop the production line and that cause accidents and injuries. Remember, even a cut on a finger has a productivity cost. When you’re able to reduce the small cuts and scratches, you’ll most likely prevent the big accidents that maim and kill workers. It all comes down to creating a more informed, knowledgeable, and confident workforce. Aren’t those the kind of people you want working for you anyway? You probably have great potential with the workers you already have – start educating them and see what a difference it makes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
1 Statistics from the United States Department of Labor, “Business Case for Safety and Health“
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.