“It seems that when hard economic times hit, comprehensive training and other safety initiatives are the first to go”, according to North Carolina Labor Department spokesperson, Delores Quesenberry. This statement was included in a report that workplace deaths in North Carolina rose from 45 in 2007 to 59 in 2008, with 6 North Carolina workers deaths’ happening on the job in December. Reports such as these are not uncommon in other states as well.
During hard times, there are some safety related testing and purchases that can be deferred for a while, but other purchases should still be made, such as employee personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e., hardhats, respirators, safety glasses, gloves, which are important to safe operations. Proper training of employees in the care of PPE is important, as well. Workers need to pay attention to safety training and how to properly care for the PPE that is furnished to them. There also should be a system to keep up with safety glasses, reusable earplugs, and other equipment, making it more cost effective.
Employees may be carrying extra workloads, such as additional hours, or doing tasks that are not as familiar to them, due to cutbacks. Therefore, safety training is imperative. The most successful companies have the strongest safety performances. Ineffective safety planning can result in expensive lawsuits when workers are injured or killed, due to not following safety precautions.
The American Society of Safety Engineers is the oldest and largest professional safety organization, (founded in October, 1911), with more than 31,000 members who consult, manage, or supervise on occupational safety and health issues in government, insurance, education and industry. The President of A.S.S.E., Warren K. Brown, cautions employers about cutting back on workplace safety in times of economic difficulty.
Everyone looks for ways to cut expenses. Sadly, safety seems to top the list. But even in tough times, regulation plays an important role. A lack of internal and external safety regulation usually results in preventable accidents. Companies need to never stop doing the things that made them successful in the first place.
Safety is good business; it keeps the company reputation intact, their employees remain safe and healthy, which reduces health care, workers comp, turnover and training costs, as well as keeping customers, vendors, the communities, and employees happy.