ASSE Comments on 2009 Fatal Workplace Injuries, Stresses the Business Sense of Safety

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) offered condolences to the families of the 4,340 people who lost their lives last year due to on-the-job injuries, according to statistics just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, yet noted that there still is much more to do in the arena of workplace safety.

“Although the workplace fatality rates have dropped, there is still much work to do. Those 4,340 people never made it home to their family,” said ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. “On the other hand, we applaud those safety professionals, smart companies and organizations that continually develop and implement workplace safety systems and processes that prevent injuries and illnesses. They make a difference every day. However, our members and ASSE know that every day there is a new risk and a new way to protect workers and the environment and because of this they continue to adapt and build new protections and systems aimed at protecting workers everywhere.

“We urge businesses, despite the economic downturn, to continue to invest in workplace safety management systems and processes now to reduce the number of these tragic losses,” Hill continued. “It also pays to invest in workplace safety when it comes to health costs. The safer a workplace is the less chance a worker will be injured or suffer an illness.”

Hill noted that many already know it is good business to protect people in the workplace. Preventing work-related injuries and illnesses cost far less than correcting them.

Studies have shown that the indirect cost of a workplace injury can be up to 10 times that of the direct costs. For every $1 invested in an effective workplace safety program, $4 to $6 may be saved as illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline. Indirect costs include: training and compensating replacement workers; repairing damaged property; accident investigation and implementation of corrective actions; scheduling delays and lost productivity; administrative expenses; low employee morale and increased absenteeism; and, poor customer and community relations.

“Companies that invest consistently in safety realize positive bottom line results, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover rates, higher productivity, increased employee morale and a positive brand image. As illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline health care and workers compensation costs decline as well,” Hill explained.

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