WRITTEN BY DANIEL ADAY, RIZIKON SAFETY & LOSS PREVENTION SPECIALIST
Whether you are a top-tier local contractor, a small landscaping company or a property manager, the importance of a safety role cannot be understated. While not every company is able to justify a full-time safety specialist, ensuring that at least one person has the responsibilities for your company’s safety is essential. Having an individual on staff who ensures your company is within compliance and minimizes injuries and accidents is one of the best return-on-investments you can make when looking at support staff.
Who is actively reviewing your bloodborne pathogen exposure program, electrical safety-related work practices, emergency action plans, hearing conservation programs or any of the other safety programs that your company has? What are the chances of even having any of these programs implemented in the first place? Going beyond “just complying with OSHA and MIOSHA” and having these programs both implemented and effective is critical to minimizing your workers’ compensation costs, improving morale, ensuring employee retention and minimizing down-time. If at any given time within the past calendar year you had more than 10 employees, you are required to fill out an OSHA log. Your OSHA 300 and 301 logs are essentially a living document and need to be updated within 7 calendar days of a recordable event. When no one oversees safety, these documents and logs can very easily become ignored or forgotten about, putting your company at risk for citations.
When an accident occurs, are you aware of the responsibility to investigate the accident? Are you aware of the requirements to fill out a 301 log or a similar report and to keep it for 5 years after the incident? Are you aware of the reporting requirements of when you need to submit an incident to OSHA? All of these are job duties that can very easily be managed by someone with a safety role. Many companies turn a blind eye to safety duties, even when they are requirements enforced through government agencies and could lead to citations, arrests, and litigation. OSHA and MIOSHA do not accept ignorance as an excuse when it comes to responsibilities and safety.
What are your company’s risks? What is the most significant hazard? What is the most likely cause of injury for your staff? The average cost for workers’ compensation claims, per injury, is about $41,000 according to the National Safety Council. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who work in residential construction have a safety incident rate of 2.9. Which means for every 200,000 hours worked, on average 2.9 people will have a recordable injury. This translates to about 1 in every 35 people in construction will have a serious injury every year. When your staff meets or exceeds 35 people, your chance of having an injury that costs at least $40,000 or more on an injury every year is extremely likely, especially without a safety professional in your company. The average profit margin in construction is around 6%, which means that your company needs to make nearly $700,000 in sales to offset this cost if you are self-insured. Managing risk, hazards, and safety is the best way to avoid these unnecessary costs that could bankrupt any company.
A safety role in your company should be a qualified and competent person. At the very minimum, the individual who oversees your company’s safety should have an OSHA 30-hour card or similar training, a complete understanding of who OSHA and MIOSHA are and where they can find applicable standards, the ability to recognize risks, know how to mitigate hazards, the authority to make safety decisions and to stop work if a safety concern arises. While the decision may be hard to determine the need and expense to have a dedicated safety role, or to split someone’s role and add safety to their duties, the opportunity to mitigate risk and ensure employee safety makes it easy to decide. Take time today to ensure your company has a safety role.