Business Leaders Agree Safety Is Important – Then Why Is Industry Average Acceptable?

Many, if not all, business leaders can strongly affirm safety is important in their organization. However, only 33% of senior safety leaders believed they had the safety culture needed for their company.1

As an account executive for a safety consulting firm, I speak with a wide range of business leaders, safety directors, EHS and HR managers. All say that the safety of their employees is extremely important. After all, who doesn’t want their workers to be safe?

Many leaders live what they say; they lead by example. They implement safety management systems that engage employees, create a strong culture of safety, and develop safety leaders. They know that a safe workforce is an engaged one which leads to increased productivity and profitability. They believe no injury is acceptable and are constantly improving towards zero injuries.

But the sad reality is that there are many others who claim, “Safety is important!”, yet their actions – and their budget – show otherwise. These are the employers who look at industry average rates and accept that meeting, or slightly beating, the industry is acceptable. But is hurting an average number of employees every year acceptable?

Let’s look at what “industry average” looks like in a few industries:

  • Metal Service Centers  – 4.5 out of every 100 workers will get injured this year
  • Commercial Construction – 2.7 out of every 100 workers will get injured this year
  • Snack Food Manufacturing – 4.7 out of every 100 workers will get injured this year
  • Mining – 1.5 out of every 100 workers will get injured this year

Okay, so let’s say you run a metal service center with 400 employees; at the industry average rate, 18 workers will be sent to the hospital this year as a result of an injury in your facility.

If you were to gather every employee in a large room – including any family members and friends who work for you – would you be able to select which 18 employees will get injured? You don’t know the severity of the injury or how it will impact their lives, but at industry average, those injuries will occur. Anything from a cut requiring 5 stitches to a severed limb – even a fatality.

After putting a face to the workers who will get injured this year, is industry average still acceptable?

I’ll leave you with this thought: Industry average doesn’t have to be the goal. Zero injuries is attainable, but will require your commitment. So now here’s the question you must wrestle with: “Is the safety and well-being of every employee in my company worth the investment in continuous improvement and cultural change?”

This article was authored by Frank Marik, Account Executive at Optimum Safety Management.