Getting Safety Buy-In From Your Organization

Categories: Coffee Break, OSHA, Risk Management

Coffee Break Series Introduction

Getting Safety Buy-In offers current statistics you can share with senior management. We also include specific data about facilities managers and custodians. We’ll share data about workplace injuries, costs, and offer tips on how to present your safety recommendations to the organization for discussion and hopefully, get sign-off you may need by others.

Upper Management and Employee Safety Concerns


Whatever your safety concerns are, most of you will need support from your organization. The first thing you’ll need to focus on is what motivates your organization’s leader, senior management, and employees. By understanding what each decision-maker needs, you can provide safety facts they will value and understand. Tie-in your facts to match up with their department concerns and you will have made a stronger case for your safety plan.

We’ve provided typical examples here of typical concerns by department, but your leaders’ concerns may be different.

Average Cost of Workplace Injury


So let’s talk money.

Almost everyone on the senior management team is concerned with costs.

Here are 2016 numbers from the US Bureau of Labor and Industry that cut right to the heart of the matter: the cost of an injury to organizations. These numbers are based on just one incident: Direct costs range from $40,000 to $80,000  and indirect costs run an additional $44,000 to $88,000 on average per incident (OSHA, Business Case for Safety and Health).

If your workplace has had more than one injury, you can see that the cost of investing in safety equipment, gear, education, and training all become far less burdensome to your organization compared to the average cost of an injury. 

In many cases, the cost for a single incident is the equivalent of paying for a senior management headcount for the year.

Here are resources to help you understand various costs associated with workplace injuries:

Workplace Injury Costs: Direct vs. Indirect


There’s a lot more to the cost of an injury, and about half of those costs are buried in indirect costs.

Finance and the CEO will appreciate that there are savings to be had when making the choice to invest in safety and that the costs even for one workplace injury are in reality much higher.

For example, an employee suffering an on-the-job injury with direct costs ranging from $0 – $2,999 has an indirect cost ratio of 4.5. This means indirect costs go as high as $13,495.50 for an average injury, in addition to the direct cost.

Many organizations just look at the direct costs, but the hidden number for indirect costs can be a black hole, so it’s a good idea to share these numbers.

Estimating the Costs of Workplace Injuries


We have created an incident estimator tool so you can use real-life numbers from your company. This will help you show senior management a viable estimate based on your company’s own numbers. Where did our numbers come from? Formulas provided by OSHA were used to build our incident estimator.

This is a great tool to help you more accurately frame your concerns with real numbers.

Workplace Injury Productivity Costs


Productivity — and the organization’s bottom line — can take a real hit when someone is in recovery away from work.

Work injury claims for 2017 edged close to a million – 892,270 to be exact, according to the National Safety Council.

Lost time and money is a key factor. The process and costs to interview, hire, and train a replacement are prohibitive. And the clock doesn’t stop ticking as a new hire ramps up towards optimal productivity.

Think about what happens that involves the other departments when someone is injured. At the very least, someone from HR, Finance, and a Supervisor are impacted. How will your safety plan make their jobs easier, and how will this area of the company’s bottom line be improved or protected?

Here are are helpful resources to help you learn more about the impact workplace injuries have on company productivity:

How Injuries Happen: Slips, Trips, and Falls


So how do injuries happen?

We’re sure you already know this, but it is important to share with senior management.

The most common way someone gets hurt on the job is by a simple slip, trip, or fall. The number one workplace injury involves the back as a result. Back injuries represent the #1 injury across 15 countries. And it’s the most medically treated issue among industrialized nations.

Back injuries also account for 15% or more of Workers’ Comp insurance costs.

There is a wealth of data about slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. Here is a handy resource list to help you build your safety case:

Overexertion in the Workplace


An even higher on the list is over-exertion, which accounts for 35% of reported injuries. This is also a huge contributor to back injuries. For more details, review the National Safety Council’s Overexertion Facts.

Facilities Support and Custodian Injury Statistics


Here are the real injury cases in 2016 suffered by facilities and custodial staff. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-fatal work injuries suffered by facilities support staff topped out at 59,800 cases. Add custodial staff cases (24,600), and you have 84,400 cases for 2016 alone. Applying the direct and indirect cost averages for employees engaging in this work reveals figures that would financially cripple most organizations.

These jobs are at much higher risk for injury than other jobs in most companies.

Maintenance, repair, and installation workers as a combined group is one of the top 5 job categories with the most incidents of workplace injury in the country. It’s right up there with firefighters and construction workers.

It’s far more likely that these employees will get injured and wind up with a costly back or joint injury. Investing in workplace safety for these employees is even more critical. A preventative safety plan for these folks creates savings versus allowing accidents to happen in a less-than-safe environment. Safe access should be a nuts-and-bolts basic component of your safety plan and budget.

Making the Case for Safety


You probably already have ideas and recommendations to address safety issues you’re concerned about, but consider grouping your safety recommendations into these three categories. This is so management can see that you are recommending a well-thought-out approach to safety. For more tips, the National Safety Council’s guide, Preparing the Business Case for Investment in Safety is an excellent resource.

Upper Management Safety Discussion


Getting safety buy-in from other departments and upper management is important.

By making your case so they can each relate, you’ll be able to frame a productive, informative discussion about your safety concerns and recommendations.