According to OSHA six million workers suffer non-fatal injuries every year in the US – costing businesses over $125 billion. Despite this number, some safety professionals and risk managers still struggle to justify investments in safety programs, training, and assets.
Calculating the ROI (return on investment) for safety is possible, and Liberty Mutual and the American Society of Safety Engineers calculate that on average the ROI for for safety programs is between $3 – $5 for every $1 spent. For most safety personnel the question is not so much is there a true ROI – but how to calculate it. Rockwell Automation’s Proving the Value of Safety whitepaper by Lyle Masimore details the steps to follow to create a safety investment analysis for your organization.
Manufacturing Safety Programs
According to Masimore, manufacturing relies on several types of safety programs including:
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Product Safety
- Machine Safety
- Environmental Safety
- Property and Equipment Safety
In most cases there is always some level of danger for employees working with and around manufacturing machinery. Heavy and/or moving parts, high heat, compressed air, and electrical components are just a few of the potential hazards employees can face in a typical day of work. Aside from the obvious goal of protecting employees from harm – businesses know an interruption due to an accident can have a detrimental effect on production as well.
Lean manufacturing and globalization of manufacturing has created an environment where we rely heavily on automation, decreased inventories, and precision production time and quantities. Removing a skilled employee due to injury (or a machine due to previously unaddressed safety hazards) can bring production to a halt and cause a serious break in the supply chain.
The most effective way to protect employees on the manufacturing floor is to remove potential risks all together. This usually involves engineers, safety managers, and equipment OEMs all working together to design equipment that eliminates potential hazards. This method, while most desirable from a safety point of view is not often possible due to process requirements.
The next most effective protective measure is installing after-market additional safe-guards such as insulation, barriers, covers, and fencing. Often times this is much more cost-effective and reasonable from a production point of view. For example, while you cannot remove heat from the equation for plastics processors, you can insulate barrels, dies, and molds to protect employees from potential burns or electrical shock. These type of protective measures tend to yield a high ROI when the investment is generally low, production processes are virtually unchanged, and and employees are easily trained to utilize the implemented safe-guards.
Other methods of machine safety that may be less effective are control systems, personal protection equipment, and effective procedures and training.
No matter what safety programs are put into place, they must be well documented and freely shared throughout the organization. Proper documentation may lower risks of mitigation if an injury does occur – and the more openly and widely shared your safety programs are, the more likely they are to be adhered to.
What are you doing to create a safer work environment and how do you look at the return on invested time and dollars for your company?