This is the first in a series of four articles on building a safety program in the solid surface fabrication industry.
Injury risk factors present in the solid surface fabrication industry include manual lifting, use of hand tools and machinery, noise exposure, heat and sharp edge exposure, working in awkward postures, exposure to vibration, and chemical and dust exposure. These factors will vary in each business. At a minimum, you likely need safety programs for personal protective equipment, chemical exposure, ergonomics, machine guarding, noise exposure, electrical safety and flammable materials. The following articles will focus on OSHA safety programs for some of these hazards common to the solid surface industry.
You need a safety program to protect your employees; protect the bottom line for your business; and to outline your legal obligations.
PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES
The primary goal of a safety program is to protect your employees from fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Every injury prevented is a person kept whole and healthy; every life saved is a family preserved intact. Workers who suffer a disabling injury can lose 40 percent of their income over five years. Additionally, families can suffer from the increased stress, conflict and divorce associated with occupational injury and illness.
PROTECT THE BOTTOM LINE
A successful safety program is also a key to a successful business. Businesses spend $170 billion dollars a year on costs associated with occupational illnesses and injuries. Injury costs take away from profits and can be as much as 5 percent of a company’s budget. In a family-based or small business, this may come directly out of your salary.
Every injury you prevent saves your company money. Even one serious workplace injury may affect the bottom line of a small business. There are both direct and indirect costs associated with occupational illnesses and injuries. Direct costs include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, repairs of damaged equipment and property, costs for legal services, overtime and/or lost work during the transition, hiring of temporary help and OSHA citations. Indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism, and work delays which can affect customer goodwill. Additionally, the notoriety of an incident or OSHA citation could also result in a significant loss of business.
Workplaces that establish safety and health management systems reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today’s business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red. Workplaces with active safety and health leadership have fewer injuries and more satisfied, productive employees. These employees return to work more quickly after an injury or illness and produce higher-quality products and services. An added benefit is that while making changes to improve workplace safety and health, employers often find ways to make significant improvements in their organization’s productivity and profitability.
A successful safety program is also your legal obligation as an employer under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This article series will help you to understand what OSHA requires, and provide you with helpful “how to” steps for developing and implementing successful safety programs.
There are three primary components of a safety program: hazard assessment, hazard control and training.