Over the years occupational deaths have been in decline, and this is a great achievement. They do still occur though. Whether from motor vehicles, falling, electrical or fire related incidents, companies have had to find a way to eliminate the emotional and financial stigma associated with these occurrences.
Industry leaders have had to look at the economic feasibilities of simply paying the associated costs of accidents, or investing in accident prevention. From a business aspect this question has to be addressed, and fortunately for everyone affected, accident prevention prevails.

Costs incurred from accidents start with lost wages and replacements, medical expenses, insurance, asset damage and other indirect costs. In all, money that is spent dealing with accidents could certainly be better utilized on improving the industry with upgrades in facilities in the way of modernizing and updating. It can be money reinvested in research or in other ways of building a competitive edge in the marketplace or industry.

Doing the Right Thing

Employers have the ability to make a positive impact preventing workplace accidents in the same manner that a responsible adult has in preventing accidents and illnesses within their home. As a parent we set up preventative programs to protect the well-being of our family. Whether it's a flu shot, locking a door or fastening a seat belt, we take cost effective steps to ensure we all make it to the end of the day in good shape, and incident free.

To be cost effective a company has to show it's more expensive financially to treat an accident, than to prevent one. Because each company is as unique as a fingerprint, these cost estimates must be made specific to an individual company and not solely by industry factors. Although, some industry factors can influence estimated costs.

Cost Factors

Cost factors to consider are lost work days, wages paid to employees affected, and replacement employees. Disabilities, permanent and temporary, doctor visits, initial and follow-up, on the scene first aid, and asset damage. These are the in your face costs.

Hidden costs can include accident investigation, emergency responders, clean up, halted production, bad press and the stigma your associates deal with after experiencing first hand a traumatic injury or death. Often employees who have dealt with these types of events never bounce right back to resuming daily activities as they once did.

Hidden costs have been compared to an iceberg. The initial costs are similar to what is seen above the water, but there is no real way to see what lies beneath the water. The only certainty is that what you don't see, what you are unaware of, is likely to be at least twice the size of what you do know.

It has been estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations, that an average of 2.2 million people die annually from work related injuries and occupational diseases. Unfortunately this number only represents countries that are transparent with their record keeping. Not all nations are forthcoming with their statistics.

A company rich in safety culture that enforces regulations and administers training on a regular basis and is consistent in record retention, and reporting into a fully integrated safety program can expect to have a positive impact on accident rates, and build a healthy employee base.