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The limited view of workplace health and safety is that it begins and ends with making sure “wet floor” signs are in place or that workers are wearing helmets or that machinery undergoes monthly checks. Yes, these things are important. But work health and safety contributes in a whole variety of ways to the performance of an organisation. Any organisation which aims to excel when it comes to recruitment and retention, high productivity, reputation, and competitive edge must commit to a robust work health and safety framework which is integrated into every facet of the organisation.
Health and safety governance is as important as any other aspect of governance. It is core to an organisation’s overall risk management function and a key responsibility of directors.
KPMG Corporate Responsibility Reporting Survey, 2017
Recruitment and retention
An organisation’s attitude to workplace health and safety along with its implementation of work health and safety policies and procedures can directly impact on staff morale. A company that cuts corners when it comes to keeping its workers safe and healthy will have a harder time retaining those staff and attracting new staff. A company’s reputation for taking health and safety seriously makes it a desirable place to work and impacts significantly on its ability to recruit quality staff. Training and education are an essential component of any work health and safety program and workers whose skills are fostered and developed are more likely to build a long relationship with their employer and are more likely to be invested in their work in a way that contributes positively to productivity and staff morale.
Make your commitment to workplace health and safety – including dedicated training programs – a key component of your recruitment drives to attract the best staff available. A company that demonstrates such a commitment is a company that shows respect for its employees and their continued development.
- Communicate workplace health and safety initiatives effectively to existing staff and during the recruitment process
- Demonstrate commitment through the active participation of managers in the program
- Celebrate achievements
- Constantly work to identity barriers or enablers to workplace health and safety. Think about the kaizen approach
- Make your workplace health and safety a key part of your company’s public profile
Work–life balance, health, and wellness are key recruitment priorities for the next generation of employees.
Joseline Sikorski, Certified Health Executive, President and CEO, Ontario Safety Association for Community and Healthcare
Productivity and performance
Safe and healthy workplaces are more productive. Research indicates that organisations investing in improved work health and safety initiatives are likely to see a positive return on that investment with businesses benefiting in a number of ways including:
- Reduced workers compensation premiums
- Reduced compliance premiums (e.g. Work Cover)
- Reduced absenteeism
- Reduced costs associated with absenteeism and return-to-work processes
- Reduced costs associated with staff turnover
- Higher levels of productivity because of staff morale
- More efficient work practises and lower operating costs
- Improved brand perception and customer loyalty
While measuring performance and productivity in relation to workplace health and safety does present some challenges, there is a demonstrated link between a strong workplace health and safety culture and higher productivity, quality performance workplaces.
An exemplary work health and safety record along with a demonstrated commitment to best practices is increasingly seen as key performance indicator in the business world and can give an organisation that all-important competitive edge when it comes to winning clients, contracts and tenders. A company that has an efficient, engaged staff, high levels of productivity, and low absenteeism is clearly a better bet than a company that suffers from low morale, high staff turn over, and a poor safety record. For example, in his article on the competitive advantages of occupational health and safety in port workplaces, Hassanzadeh explains that ports that have unsafe cargo handling practices will drive away potential clients in what is an increasingly competitive global market. Safe working port environments show higher productivity and yield higher profits than those with shoddy health and safety records.
With a growing ethical consumer movement and increased demand for transparency around worker safety, there has never been a more important time for organisations to meet their business and moral imperative to deliver on workplace health and safety.
More than ticking boxes
Workplace health and safety initiatives are often perceived by employers to be an expense rather than an investment. They are viewed as a box-ticking exercise – a way to avoid penalties but nothing more. Evidence, however, supports findings that a strong workplace health and safety framework with demonstrated engagement from management, results in better performance, higher productivity, and an improved reputation. With these qualities comes a significant competitive advantage. Organisations who ignore the moral and business imperative to implement a comprehensive workplace health and safety framework including a robust training program, do so at their peril.
I speak about health and safety often and take a visible leadership role. Along with encouraging our managers to walk the floor, I make safety the first agenda item and talk about the elements of a sustainable safety culture when I visit any of our locations.
Elyse Allan, President and CEO, GE Canada
Give us a call – we’d love to help you make workplace health and safety a priority today.
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