According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration, workplace accidents are more expensive than most companies realize. This is because workplace accidents and their aftermath are composed of two types of costs: direct and indirect. Direct costs are fairly obvious and include things like Worker’s Compensation claims. Indirect costs are, by nature, less obvious and include things like the costs associated with training and compensating a replacement worker, repairing damaged property, investigating the accident, implementing corrective action, and maintaining insurance coverage. Don’t forget about the even-less-obvious costs associated with schedule delays, added administrative time, lower morale, increased absenteeism, and poorer customer relations.
In fact, studies have shown that the ratio of indirect costs to direct costs can reach as high as 20:1. That means that for every $1000 you spend on the direct costs of an accident, the possibility exists that you could spend $20,000 on the indirect costs of the accident. No one wants that.
So how can you make moves to prevent accidents in the workplace?
One effective method is the safety suggestion box. Your workers are on the front lines – they see it all – and are the best source for safety concerns in the workplace. Instituting a safety suggestion box allows your workers to address the safety concerns – both major and minor – that they encounter every day and which might go unnoticed by management.
We at Vetter have direct experience with this. BASF’s South Carolina plant instituted a web-based safety suggestion box through Vetter (www.getvetter.com) because, according to BASF Human Resources Manager Andrew Tunstall, “[We] always need to stay focused on…employee safety concerns. So far, [our 450] employees have responded well to the new system and suggestions keep flowing in.”
Whether setting up a safety suggestion box for 450 workers or 45 workers, the process remains the same. Here’s how to implement a safety suggestion box program in just five days.
Document the current safety situation in your workplace in order to establish some benchmark data. Find out how many accidents, leaks, spills, and other mishaps your workers are having each month. If possible, determine the financial impact of these events – whether large or small – in order to illustrate the direct and indirect costs.
Show the data to senior management. Any big project or initiative requires the support of senior management so take what you’ve learned to the higher-ups, show how a safety suggestion box can reduce costs, and stress the importance of getting started right away.
Establish a system for categorizing the inflow of suggestions. A simple way to do this is to divide the workplace into discreet areas (i.e., loading dock, shipping, pre-production, production, post-production, etc.). Then identify a problem area from the benchmark data you accumulated on Day 1 in preparation for Days 4 and 5.
Send out an informative e-mail (put up a flyer, make an announcement, whatever needs done to address the majority of your workers) stating that senior management has identified a particular safety problem and tomorrow a safety suggestion box will be made available to address this – and any other – problem.
Launch your suggestion box. In order to grease the wheels, so to speak, it’s important to have some ideas already submitted so that employees are not scared to be the first one to make a suggestion. As you might imagine, we recommend Vetter for this, but there are some other good options out there too!
It really is as simple as that; just five short days to a safer workplace and a happier workforce. And whether your safety suggestion box is a physical box located in the break room or a website that can be accessed from anywhere (this format is often more productive because ideas don’t occur only at work), it’s important to follow up on the suggestions in order to maintain the view that the suggestion box is a worthwhile endeavor.
So get started today because the sooner you start, the sooner you can begin reducing workplace accidents and avoiding both the direct and indirect costs associated with these events.
Healther Saunders; ECITB Product Dev. ManagerBook a Demo