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Workplace safety is not an option

Times are tough for businesses right now. They will get better, but in the meantime every business is taking whatever measures they can to ensure they will be there to see it.

Every business owner is well aware of what they need, financially, to operate and continue to generate profit. To meet that goal as painlessly as possible, they will shed whatever expenses they can to increase the margin between expenses and income. There is absolutley nothing wrong with profit. Profit is the main goal of opening and operating a business. What matters is what methods are employed to generate and maintain that profit margin. Some of the measures businesses may take include cutting back on inventory, raising prices, cutting back on salaries or even their workforce. Another common method of minimizing the cost of business is to curtail travel and training for staff.

In the fervor to minimize costs, valuable programs may be shelved or cut without the benefit of proper examination. Professional development courses are cut completely, instead of cut back – eliminating a key means of maintaining currency and market competitiveness. The business may survive, but it’s marketability is greatly reduced because it now lags behind competition.

 

Another program that seems to be among the first victims of cutbacks is the workplace safety program. This is where a lot of businesses get in trouble- financially and/or legally. There are quite a few types of safety training that can be cut back on, or even eliminated, but cutting all training out completely is a very, very bad idea.  There are two very big reasons why cutting safety training can be compared with a business cutting it’s figurative wrists.

First, there is the liability issue. If an employee is injured on the job, and the cause of the injury can be attributed to lack of proper safety training, the business becomes open to civil and possibly criminal litigation. The costs of legal action against the company will be more costly than the sum of all the savings from cutting those safety programs. In the case of a small business, it will most likely result in closing the doors forever. Even if the business escapes the worst case scenario, liability insurance repercussions can affect the business for many years to come.

Second is the legal obligations to meet the rules and regulations established by the OSH Act, enforced by OSHA. There are many regulations that require training of employees upon hire as well as many that carry annual refresher training. Failure to meet these requirements can result in fines and criminal charges against the company and it’s officers. If the violations are discovered as the result of a workplace accident, which is usually the case, fines can be increased exponitionally. These costs would most likely be in addition to any of the civil repercussions mentioned previously.

The bottom line is “Don’t let the bottom line drag your business to the bottom.” Before cutting back or out any of your safety programs, or to ensure you have the necessary training available, consult with a qualified safety professional and obtain a review of all your programs. He or she will be able to advise you on what to keep, what to cut back on and what can be “safely” eliminated.

-Ed Sterrett
Central Florida Safety Academy

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Categories: Safety
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