Why Exactly Is Workplace Safety Important?

When I first started my job at an oil company straight after graduation, I was expecting safety measures to naturally have some sort priority among the daily tasks. What caught me by surprise however, was just how deep the concept of workplace safety was embedded in everyone's culture. There were people on site who could barely read or write anything beyond their own names but had incredible knowledge of workplace safety, hazard recognition and mitigation techniques, and even technical processes like risk assessmentsincident and near miss reporting, and performing quality LPOs and safety investigations came natural for them.

I also immediately noticed that no expenses were spared when it came to the safety of not only our employees, but to our contractors, dealers, and even our visitors to the point where it became standard practice to simply not to a task (now matter how important it was to our operations) if any safety measure was missing (no matter how insignificant it may seem).

All this begs the question: Why is workplace safety important?

If you would go to any work setting nowadays chances are you will see at least one poster or bulletin carrying flashy phrases like "Safety First!" or "Safety is everyone's concern", and most definitely everyone will know that safety is important, but when I thought about it, not many people really understood the why of it, or at least why business now invest huge amounts of money, time, and training to promote not only the knowledge of workplace safety, but the culture of safety.

Check out: Building An Actively Caring Culture – The Psychological Side of Workplace Safety

Developing and maintaining an effective safety program not only benefits the well-being of the people involved, but it also carries deep psychological as well as economical implications.

The most obvious driving force towards keeping a safe working environment is of course preventing injury. A work incident or a resulting injury (or worse) can have serious effects for an extended period of time even after taking place, it will also affect everyone and not just the involved individual. It has been found that the sense of safety alone is enough to boost morale, dedication, motivation, and subsequently, productivity of a workforce.

It all comes down to good safety leadership and management

On my work site for examples, I've noticed ridiculous amounts of money being spent on safety equipment, PPEs, and training programs that promote a "Nobody Gets Hurt" culture. I've seen tasks as simple as changing an office light bulb, carrying a toolbox, or moving equipment from one point to another can simply not be done without going through very strict authorization protocols and different levels of work permits and safety checks. Many large scale jobs and even entire projects would even be called off or temporarily shut down because the correct type of protective gloves or the right screwdriver was not available at the time for instance.

Remember that a safe work area also promotes loyalty, and increases their trust in their management. It will also enhance the quality of their work along with the actively caring culture among the team.

What happens when safety is not a priority?

You may think investing too much in protective equipment is unnecessary, or that your current safety measures are okay and don't need upgrading, but a single preventable work related injury or incident may cost a lot of money and downtime, it may also lead to a noticeable drop in people's morale, reduce productivity, and even damage the public's outlook on a company and affect reputation, which costs even more money.

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