There are many practical and sensible areas where establishing a budget would be an ideal allocation of resources. For instance, organizations will look at the realms of marketing, client outreach, or research and development, and find that establishing a budget for these business units ends up yielding an impressive ROI. When thinking in these terms, it can be tempting to view safety as just another vertical, where establishing a budget for injuries will help “get safety under control.” However, treating safety in this manner — rather than investing in the safety program and safety leadership — can actually set an organization up for failure and greater safety issues in the workplace.
Plan to Fail Mentality
The idea for a safety injury budget is rooted in the philosophy that safety incidents are unavoidable, and that it’s better to plan for injuries rather than spend time figuring out why they happen. In truth, this viewpoint is not only incorrect, but also actively harmful to the organization as a whole.
When an organization commits to creating an injury budget rather than investing in a safety program, it is an acknowledgement that safety issues are present in everyday working habits and processes, but the organization is resigned to repeating them rather than solving them. Furthermore, it projects the idea that the processes in place are currently as good as they will ever be, and that there is no potential left for improvement. Approaching safety with this kind of plan to fail mentality ends up taking a toll on employees, diminishing company culture and productivity, rippling into the quality of an organization’s product and bottom-line. Instead, investing in, and maintaining, a sound safety program roots out solutions for underlying safety issues, strengthening morale, increasing employee engagement, and improving processes as a result.
Injury is a Part of the Job
The notion that injuries are just a part of the job is another reason organizations will routinely turn to creating injury budgets. Usually driven by a limited scope of worksite and process data, this assumption is also misinformed, and misses the larger role a well-funded safety program plays in creating more efficient working environments. Rather than being reactive, and applying budgeted funds to workplace safety incidents after they’ve happened, investing those same funds into training, workshops, and safety leadership allows employers to be proactive in evaluating their workflows and processes. Creating a multi-disciplinary safety leadership team to take a critical look at how the work is completed provides meaningful solutions to safety concerns, while uncovering previously hidden process improvements. By utilizing this safety program approach, organizations are able to efficiently reduce safety incidents before they happen, and maximize their process improvements for a better ROI.
Being Under Budget Does Not Equal Success
Quarterly, monthly, or annually, the goal of any budget is to either increase profit, or decrease budget spend. In the realm of an injury budget, it is highly unlikely it will yield any actual profit, so the incentive is for the utilization to come in under budget. However, crunching these numbers does not automatically equate to a successful reduction in injuries, or a safe working environment. For instance, if a consistent portion of the budget is allocated for a similar amount every quarter, for the same type of injury, this only goes to show that there is a known safety issue in that area, not that the safety issue is being addressed. Similarly, a major safety issue may happen only under specific circumstances, and only reflect once during a budget cycle, allowing for the budget to still perform favorably, but with a major potential safety issue left vulnerable and unaddressed for another cycle.
Overall, creating an injury budget strips a safety program of the real human cost of safety issues, reducing the impact of safety to the performance of an allocated numerical amount. This, in turn, downplays the value of employees, and reduces the effort of their contributions to an organization. Building employee confidence through trainings, workshops, and safety leadership; making them feel valued; and showing that their safety is a primary concern always yields stronger, better, more efficient fruits of their labor, strengthening the reputation and product of their employer.
Optimum Safety Management provides information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.