Safety – Are We There Yet?

In the last decade or two, developed countries have seen a concrete legislative and social push towards improving the safety standards of employees in the workplace. With the responsibility placed upon employers to provide safe and secure workplaces, why then do we still consistently see violations in safety measures around the World? Perhaps it is the result of greed, or maybe for lack of education – but while humanity has made great strides in the area of worker safety through both legislation and societal demand, we have a long way to go yet. The only way that safety will become a top priority for businesses – all businesses – will be if it becomes not only the best practice, but also the most profitable one.

British Construction Companies Widely Ignore Safety

You don’t need to go far – or type much into Google in order to find some kind of article regarding flouted safety processes. A brilliantly written UK article by Nick Cohen outlines the British construction industry’s pseudo-war against safety. Mr. Cohen describes a horrifying industry-wide environment in which safety representatives and specialists in the industry become blacklisted, unable to find work in construction due to their unique perspective regarding occupational safety. It isn’t just those who have a background in safety that are discriminated against though; the article describes situations in which workers were noted as having complained about lax or non-existent safety standards, only to find themselves landed on the industry-wide blacklist.

North American Safety Also Lacking in Many Areas

Closer to home, safety faces challenges as well in many industries and geographic areas. In businesses from restaurants – notorious for not filling out accident report forms for work-place injuries, to large ocean-going oil-rigs and refineries which have recently been making news for causing massive environmental damage, safety has remained on the center stage, but has made only marginal progress. In a society that provides so much lip service to safety, shouldn’t most, if not all industries be past these kinds of mistakes and carelessness already?

Why Can’t Proper, Pervasive Workplace Safety Practices Take Hold?

So why has health and safety continued to take the back seat in spite of the world-wide discussion that continues around the subject? The answer is economics pure and simple. While there are many, many employers around the globe that have chosen to make the safety of their employees a top priority (and we very highly commend all that have done so), there are still many organizations which, lacking either the foresight, the compassion, or the economic incentive, have decided to pursue a non-safety-centric approach in order to keep costs down… and in that lies the problem.

How Do We Make Safety the #1 Priority?

Safety should not, and does not have to be the least economical solution for an employer. In fact, much of the posted literature from Canada, the United States of America, and the UK in regard to adoption of concrete and effective safety processes in the workplace indicate that the reduction in insurance premiums which result from such safety implementations pay for themselves.

Another method of cost-reduction which has become feasible over the last half-decade has been the large-scale automation of safety monitoring processes. Thanks to advances in both communications and tracking technologies, it is now possible to monitor employee safety without requiring a large infrastructure or additional labour. As a result, the costs of implementing strong monitoring systems can now be largely if not completely offset from the savings achieved through lower insurance premiums.

It may be a while yet until we can convince every employer around the world to adopt safety standards based on morals or legality. As we have seen, even the World’s most developed nations fail to maintain 100% compliance with stringent safety laws – however if we let money do the talking, if safety becomes not only the best-practice, but also the most economical one, we may finally have a world in which everyone gets home safely. We do have the power to make that happen.

Blackline is just one of many companies that aim to make safety practices more affordable, effective, feasible and applicable to businesses worldwide. To find out how we are doing this, visit www.blacklinesafety.com.

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