The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to regulate private employers by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires employers to provide a safe workplace free from serious hazards and that complies with standards, rules and regulations. Enacted in 1970, the Act was designed to ensure safe, healthy working conditions through standards, training, education and assistance — and penalties for those businesses that were not OSHA compliant, according to the DOL.
How OSHA Regulations Can Impact Your Bottom Line
While OSHA compliance, and avoiding what can be significant fines and penalties, may be challenging for organizations, there are some definite bottom line benefits for those that are able to master the details. Finance leaders can play an important role in helping their firms and their leaders understand the big benefits to their bottom line that OSHA compliance can bring.
What Accidents in the Workplace Can Cost You
The DOL notes that occupational injuries and illnesses in the workplace cost the U.S. $170 billion each year. The good news is that incident rates are on the decline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private industry employers reported that there were 48,000 fewer injury cases in 2015 than in 2014. The total recorded cases (TRC) fell 0.2 cases per 100 full-time workers.
It's Time to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries
Since the beginning of 2017, OSHA has required some employers to electronically submit their injury and illness data that is already recorded on their OSHA Injury and Illness forms, according to the DOL. This information will be available to the public with obvious ramifications.
Know Your OSHA Incident Rate
Finance leaders should know how their OSHA incident rate compares to others within the same industry. And, obviously, organizations should vigorously manage safety in the workplace for reasons related both to employee relations and compliance. Those fines, of course, can be substantial — from thousands to even millions of dollars.
But, while fines can be substantial and are certainly something to avoid, organizational costs can extend beyond fines. Those costs can include increased insurance and health care benefit costs, productivity impacts, damage to the brand and potential loss of market share.
How to Minimize Your Organization's Risk
To help minimize risk for your organization, much depends on your industry and the type of work being done. According to the DOL, the top hazards are fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolds and respiratory protection. Ensuring safe working conditions, communication and education is critical. Finance leaders should partner with their HR colleagues and management and supervisory staff to ensure a safe environment and ongoing communication about the importance of safe work practices. Creating and supporting a culture of safety can go a long way toward minimizing risk and resulting fines.
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