The High Cost of Workplace Incidents – And How to Prevent Them

Workplace incidents, fatalities, and injuries are costly issues for workers and employers alike. In its 2018 Workplace Safety Index, Liberty Mutual found that in a single year, employers paid about 1 billion dollars weekly in direct workers’ compensation costs. The National Safety Council estimates that workplace injuries and fatalities costs the nation, employees, and employers about 151 billion dollars annually.

In addition, incidents can be especially detrimental for workers and their families. Incidents can create financial strain, increased emotional stress, and can affect the mental health of those who were injured as well as their family members. A joint study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Northern Kentucky University found that family members of injured workers experience a 34% increase in personal injuries related to assisting their injured relative with day-to-day tasks at home.

So how can workplace risks be mitigated? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that employers who implement effective safety and health management protocols and systems can expect to significantly reduce costs associated with injury and illnesses. This can translate to savings in workers’ compensation, medical costs, and lost productivity as well as preventing the emotional and personal strains of injuries on workers and their loved ones.

Below, we’ve outlined some ways that you and your teams can work towards reducing the costs of workplace incidents:

Set Training Goals

Deciding how much a worker should know regarding safety in their workplace can help significantly reduce their risk of being in an incident. Though your workplace has training protocol in place to prevent injuries already, being on the lookout for training gaps and for more ways to increase worker safety can go a long way for reducing risks on the job.

Here are some questions to ask regarding your company’s training goals:

  • How are your workers being trained?
  • How do you ensure that workers are aware of all relevant safety risks?
  • Do your workers know who to call if they are injured?
  • Do employees know proper protocol if they see that a coworker has been injured?

Constantly monitoring to ensure that employees are trained and aware of your workplace’s safety measures can be a great preventive measure for reducing and avoiding incidents.

Prioritize Safety in Your Recruitment Process

One effective risk management practice is prioritizing safety in your recruitment process. For certain industries such as construction, transportation, or agriculture, risk is an inherent and ongoing factor. Finding suitable candidates for roles within these industries can be challenging for this reason. How do you find a candidate that is qualified and can get the job done, but is also risk-averse and will be conscious of engaging in their work as safely as possible?

Making safety part of your company brand is a great way to start. Mentioning workplace safety in your job postings, as well as emphasizing safety in your employee value propositions is another valuable measure to take. Finally, communicating the importance of safety throughout job screenings and interviews can help define safety as an important principle of your organization to any potential hires.

Utilize Pre-employment Assessments to Find Safety-Conscious Candidates

Pre-employment assessments can be a valuable tool for helping you and your teams find candidates that are safety-conscious. These tests can contribute to reducing the risk that your employees may engage in risky or counterproductive work behavior by testing for different safety-related qualities.

Research shows that 80% of workplace incidents are caused by human error. Criteria’s Workplace Safety Profile (WSP) is an assessment that allows organizations to identify candidates who are more likely to engage in risky behavior. It is used by organizations across a wide range of industries – from construction and manufacturing to transportations and logistics.

By identifying candidates in the hiring process who are less likely to engage in risky behavior at work, organizations are able to directly reduce the number of accidents that occur. For example, a heavy machinery supplier found that employees who scored as “High Risk” on the Workplace Safety Profile were disproportionately responsible for workplace incidents – this group had 7.8x the amount of money paid out in safety claims compared to employees in the low-risk group.

Similarly, a leading transportation and logistics company used the Workplace Safety Profile to assess 150+ drivers, and found that the high-risk group experienced 53% more road accidents, 3.5x more serious injuries, and 39% higher accident costs.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of safety in the workplace. In order to reduce the risks, organizations need to focus on creating a strong safety culture, and hiring employees who are more likely to adhere to those standards.