Making the case for safety

It is one thing to explain the value of safety to large corporations with multiple layers of safety personnel, procedures and resources, but another for small firms with small budgets.

NIOSH, which conducts scientific research on workplace safety and health issues, is partnering with several organizations to create business models it expects will assist small companies in understanding the value and benefits of safety on their bottom lines.

In conjunction with the American Industrial Hygiene Association and consulting firm ORC Worldwide, NIOSH expects to complete a toolkit later this year that small firms will be able to use to develop a personalized business case for safety.

The program will allow companies to input information into a computer program to determine a value for safety at their locations. The concept is similar to computerized tax programs used by consumers, said Elyce Biddle, senior research economist at NIOSH.

The effort began in 2004 with the development of a safety value strategy from AIHA, and accelerated with NIOSH and ORC efforts to develop the tool­kit over the past year, Biddle said.

“We’re trying to make it very simplistic. We want some simplistic methodology for everybody to be able to use to demonstrate a value both in quantitative and qualitative terms and the effect on the business in participating in occupational safety and health efforts,” Biddle said.

Biddle said such an effort would help alleviate fears that small firms often hold regarding safety costs. “People think that correcting a problem or instituting an occupational safety and health program is too expensive to do. The reality is that if you look at it only in a very narrow view, that could be true. But if you really look at what value it brings to your company in a broader sense, you will find that the value is not just the immediate dollar return. It is in the efficiencies you get for your company because of occupational safety and health,” Biddle said.

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