Phrases such as "Safety First," "Safety is Job One" and "Safety is Our Top Priority" are ever-present in American business. You see them on posters in break rooms; you hear them at safety conferences, or any time a senior executive comments about safety. They are clichés, but many businesspeople mean it. Because of their moral commitment to safety, their employees go home every day in the same condition they came into work.
According to a recent survey of facility professionals by Staples Advantage, safety-related responsibilities account for a fraction of their daily workload. The time spent varies with company size. Facility professionals in companies with 100 - 500 employees devote 20 to 25 percent of their time to safety. In companies with 500 – 1,000 employees, they will devote 25 to 35 percent of their time to safety issues. These professionals are serious about safety, and take great pride in ensuring employee and workplace safety. "I need to make sure everyone is safe," is a common phrase among facilities professionals.
One of the big surprises in the survey was how few businesses have a specific budget for safety supplies and training. Granted, the dollar amount spent yearly is not large when compared to other budget categories. However, this lack of a specific safety budget is a cause of concern. Without it, other discretionary spending obscures tracking annual spending for necessary and compulsory safety supplies and training. This, coupled with the constant pressure to cut cost, can silently undermine the best safety efforts. Eventually, this can expose companies big and small to unnecessary risks, needless workplace injuries, lost productivity, OSHA fines and citations, and negative media coverage.
Then again, having a specific safety budget and rigorously tracking safety performance are not enough. One of the most difficult things for companies to overcome is the attitude of employees, "I won't get hurt at work." From an early age, we are conditioned that certain things are dangerous, such as sharks, and everyday activities such as work are safe. Typically, shark attacks account for one fatality a year. Yet, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, in one year, 4,405 workers died of workplace injuries. Another 3 million suffered a serious job-related injury or illness.
This white paper's objective is to give facility professionals useful information they can apply to their effort to reduce workplace injuries and illness and develop a culture of safety: