Profit is the main yardstick for success for most businesses in Australia.However, it's important to remember that profitability and productivity are affected by countless different factors – work health and safety among them. 

We all know that a safer workplace is a more effective, productive and positive place to be. But is there any hard evidence that better work health and safety practice improves your bottom line? With the help of a 2014 Safe Work Australia report, we've had a closer look. 

Work health and safety could be affecting your bottom line more than you think. Work health and safety could be affecting your bottom line more than you think.

The effects of poor WHS

Studies in Australia and throughout the world have left no doubt that poor work health and safety greatly affects a business' effectiveness. In their report, Safe Work Australia quotes a number of studies, which unequivocally found that an unsafe work places result in:

  • Lower productivity,
  • Poor competitiveness,
  • Reduced shareholder value, and
  • Greater public scrutiny.

There's no doubt that the above symptoms of poor work health and safety practice will hurt your business' bottom line. Even more startling is evidence from a 2005 Medibank study that found the healthiest employees in Australia were three times more productive than unhealthy employees. 

For those who must undertake potentially dangerous tasks, such as working in a confined space, a focus on good work health and safety practice becomes even more essential.

Economic loss from poor WHS

Injury and death in the workplace has an economic cost of $1.25 trillion a year, or 4 per cent of global GDP.

Providing an unsafe workplace is not only irresponsible and immoral, it's also extremely costly. An estimated 128,050 Australian workers made compensation claims for serious injuries in 2011 and 2012 – that's around 12.2 claims per 1,000 employees. 

If you've provided a workplace that's not up to standard, your insurance may not cover your loss and you may be responsible for paying for your employee's recovery. Not only that, but you'll have to cover your worker while they're off for an average of just over 12 weeks for serious claims. The resulting loss in productivity is difficult to quantify, but it's surely considerable.

What's even more sobering is the cost of workplace deaths, which are sadly all too common in Australia. International Labour Organisation data suggests that in total accidents, injury and death in the workplace has an economic cost of $1.25 trillion a year, or 4 per cent of global GDP. 

Safe Work Australia estimates that our national cost is closer to 5 per cent of our GDP, and that the cost per work-related death is between $11 million and $19 million. You – the employer – will bear a relatively small amount of that cost in the event of a workplace, but a small percent of $19 million could still be a massive sum.

Accidents in the workplace are often avoidable.Accidents in the workplace are often avoidable.

Making your workplace better

It can be tough to measure the effects of better work health and safety, but it's abundantly clear that they're positive. Adopting good health and safety practice means better productivity, a more attractive bottom line and of course, happier employees.

This sets the foundations for a sustainable and successful business that serves the interests of employees, employers and stakeholders alike. For help getting your business' work health and safety practises up to standard, start with Alertforce.

We're one of NSW's most trusted training providers, offering a wide range of accredited short courses from asbestos awareness and removal, to combined spaces training and everything in between.

Get in touch today to find out what we can do for your business.