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Making the Case for Worker Safety Culture & Communication

Paul Marushka, President & Chief Executive Officer Sphera

Just over 100 years ago, there were roughly 61 deaths per 100,000 U.S. workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, today this number is  about three deaths per 100,000 workers. Quite an improvement.  But there’s still work to be done.  Beyond the obvious moral and ethical tenets behind the importance of keeping your people safe, the process of adopting and implementing a culture of safety offers Environmental Health & Safety managers perhaps their best opportunity to demonstrate value to their organization.

Put simply, safety is just good business.

Creating a true safety-reporting culture and providing workers with the tools and solutions they need to track, record and report incidents and near-misses is one of the most powerful actions a company can take. The more data and information that is aggregated and analyzed, the more companies can help reduce incidents, and through predictive analytics, the faster companies can figure out where the next incident is most likely to occur and take steps to prevent it.

Workforce safety cannot just be a singular event or area of focus on any given week, month or year. To be effective long term, workplace safety initiatives must be part of daily efforts toward achieving Operational Excellence.

All of this starts with being able to communicate to senior leadership the value that safety best practices bring to an organization.

It is proven that safer workplaces produce better business results.

Paul O’Neil, the former CEO of Alcoa, challenged his company to become the world’s safest with a goal of zero harm. Upon execution of its safety strategy, Alcoa’s earnings increased 600 percent over five years and sales grew by 15 percent per year. It was also five times safer to work at Alcoa than it was 10 years earlier.

Aligning safety goals with the overall business mission is key to a successful program implementation. An organization’s line leaders and workforce will become responsible for creating a safe environment if executive management demonstrates in words and actions—as well as policies, procedures and financial incentives—that it is committed to worker safety and health.

This not only creates a true safety culture, but also an excellent way to show the value your team and EHS initiatives bring to the table.

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