Researchers study link between worker safety, business longevity
Corvallis, OR — Future safety regulations need to reward employer innovation that improves both worker safety and a business’s likelihood of survival, researchers say after finding that “organizations that do not provide a safe workplace gain an economic advantage over those that do.”
An international team, led by researchers from Oregon State University, looked at short- and long-term “survival” – defined as ongoing operations, even after a change in ownership – of more than 100,000 Oregon-based organizations over a 25-year period. The team gauged whether a company provided a safe workplace by reviewing its history of disabling claims, using data provided by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.
Results showed that organizations with worker injury claims survived up to 56% longer than organizations with no claims. Further, companies with at least 100 employees and claims filed against them were more likely to survive compared with similar-sized companies without claims.
Additionally, high claims costs were more likely to harm the survival of younger or smaller companies, or companies that are growing quickly. For this reason, the researchers said, those companies have a greater incentive to protect their workforce but likely fewer resources to do so.
“The goal of improving the longevity of a business conflicts with the goal of protecting the workforce,” researcher Anthony Veltri, associate professor of public health and human sciences as OSU, said in a May 13 press release.
“When it’s cheaper to pay nominal fines for violating workplace regulations than to provide safe workplaces, that indicates current safety regulations are not enough to protect workers,” the researchers concluded.
The study was published online May 5 in the journal Management Science.