Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Safety Programs - A Great Return on Investment

Many businesses reluctantly join or create safety programs either because we are legally obligated or we recognize the financial incentives. Typically, senior managers examine the cost/benefit of the provincial workers’ compensation penalty and rebate system, and then decide to implement a safety program because of the affect on the bottom line. The good news is that, regardless of the motive for starting a safety program, it soon becomes exponentially beneficial to our companies.

There is substantial evidence that the benefits of a robust safety program go well beyond the obvious measurable financial rewards of rebates and reduced lost time injuries. When effectively rolled out and communicated to employees, a safety initiative also supports a healthy corporate culture, conveying a sense of community and caring. This messaging consistently improves morale, employee engagement and retention, resulting in improvements across all areas of the organization. As an added bonus, our employees remain, safe and healthy.

At a basic level, the motives for workplace safety include:

• Legal compliance;
• Cost reduction (the average lost time injury costs over $59,000);
• Business interruption protection;
• Employee relations improvement;
• Reliability and productivity improvement;
• Building organizational capability; and
• Building public trust.

The temporary staffing industry is leading the way in driving and supporting safety programs. The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS) Safety Group founded one of the very first industry safety groups in 2002 to improving the staffing industry’s safety record. When the temporary staffing industry has an improved safety record it means that our clients have an improved record, too. The ACSESS Safety Group's objective is pretty simple: achievement. Each Safety Group member sets reduced incident and lost time injury performance objectives and commits to annual operational improvements called “safety elements”. Group members earn rebates of up to 6% of their premiums if they achieve their planned results.

The ACSESS Safety Group earned an achievement factor of 100% in 2008 resulting in a total group rebate of $1,305,354.56. We expect a similar result to be reported for 2009 and 2010. The People Bank is a founding member of the ACSESS Safety Group, and most industry safety meetings are hosted at The People Bank’s conference and training centre. The People Bank and other staffing industry companies are voluntarily working together to enhance industry best practises and to improve our collective results.

Of course, this type of program could not be successful without the shared commitment of client organizations who demonstrate the same “Safety First” mindset. We partner with client organizations to share best practices and to hire people who fit into a corporate culture of caring, safety and productivity. When we are achieving our safety objectives then, ultimately, our clients are achieving theirs.

We have experienced the benefits of joining a Safety Group firsthand, and we recommend this approach to all of our safety-minded clients. Each province has a different approach to promoting safety at work. We have provided some Safety Group and Safety Program links for your reference.

Ontario Safety Groups
Alberta Certificate of Recognition COR
Work Safe. For Life. Nova Scotia
Safe Manitoba

Here are a few hints on how to improve your Safety ROI:
• Make workers’ safety your highest priority
• Create and nurture a safety culture in the workplace
• Enhance employee morale by showing you care
• Increase your business competitiveness with a dedicated workforce
• Boost productivity and improve quality with a passionate team
• Develop a structured approach to health and safety programs
• Promote and support employee safety committees
• Hold frequent safety committee meetings with clear objectives
• Publish and post safety policies and programs
• Develop best practices through networking and groups
• Provide safety training to all employees
• Include temporary and contract workers in safety orientations
• Establish objectives to reduce WSIB/WCB claims and claims costs
• Set goals for reduced lost-time-injuries
• Implement effective Return To Work and Modified Work programs
• Access free health and safety resources from safety and industry associations
• Set targets for financial incentives to avoid penalties and earn rebates
• Partner with a staffing service provider that shares your commitment to safety

This issue of the Staffing Insider was written by Christopher McOuat, Chair of The People Bank and Aimco Staffing Solutions's Operational Quality and Safety Committee