There are close to 200,000 mid-market-sized organizations in the United States and Canada, defined as having an annual revenue of more than $10 million and under $1 billion, according to the GE Capital 2011 National Middle Market Summit.
Each of these organizations has a plethora of responsibilities and issues from revenue growth and consumer satisfaction to regulatory compliance. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns for the mid-market is employee health and safety.
Mid-market companies employ nearly 25 percent of the workforce, or around 55 million workers. That’s a huge share of the responsibility to keep all workers safe and manage occupational risks.
So, how should organization make sure its employees go home safely every day?
The answer here is simple: plan, plan, plan. Don’t wait for something to happen before you realize that you need to make occupational health and safety a priority. Don’t neglect employee training and injury prevention until it’s too late.
Mid-market firms have a major focus on implementing processes and software for incident management (32 percent) but less focus on managing and mitigating the risk beforehand (28 percent), according to a recent study by Verdantix. This is a huge opportunity for improvement, as managing an incident after it happens often is much more expensive than taking preventative measures to avoid it altogether.
OSHA encourages all organizations, regardless of size, to implement an injury and illness prevention program to identify and address problems before they occur in the workplace. This not only will reduce the likelihood of a safety event such as an injury, illness or fatality but also increase employee morale. Employees are loyal and positive toward an organization that clearly values their safety, leading to greater productivity and talent retention.
International Standards such as OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 provide the framework for health and safety management systems, but many mid-market organizations face an array of challenges in implementation.
In a mid-market company, health and safety typically is one of the smaller departments, with employees wearing many hats and stretched thin. With limited human capital, there often isn’t capacity to implement an effective health and safety program, and the department becomes reactive rather than proactive.
Those running the EHS department are stuck investigating why a safety event occurred, rather than identifying and correcting risks beforehand.
Verdantix found that nearly half of the CEOs at mid-markets believe that EHS management is a cost center rather than a potential contributor to the financial bottom-line. The perceived cost of upkeep is high and health and safety budgets aren’t prioritized.
With limited resources and limited budget, running a truly effective health and safety program can be a heavy burden and seem impossible. With insurance premiums on the rise and with more staff absences being reported, the perception will need to change from that of a cost center to that of a cost avoidance center, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey.
Outdated Health and Safety Management Platforms
Many mid-market organizations manage health and safety programs through a homegrown system using pen and paper, Microsoft Excel or some other manual tool. These legacy systems can be bulky and complicated, leading to errors in data reporting, compliance issues and items slipping through the cracks.
While these potential problems certainly are a challenge for the mid-market, there is a huge opportunity for improvement through technology that can mollify the pressure from small departments with a big job to do.
Software built specifically for the EHS ecosystem can cut costs, stress and human capital needed for a successful program. With resources already stretched thin, a fully-automated safety management system helps departments remain compliant with local and international laws, ensuring that the program stays in tip-top shape.
By keeping the health and safety department and your employees automatically notified when issues arise, safety management systems promote productivity, accuracy and complete communication between employees and the respective departments.
Over 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries were reported by private employers in 2015. Each lost time injury costs approximately $100,000; employers pay over $1 billion each week for direct workers’ compensations costs. How many of these accidents could have been prevented with the right information? How much of that information already exists within a company’s database?
EHS can benefit greatly from a system that utilizes business intelligence analytics, empowering EHS professionals to easily and accurately report on their health and safety data to identify trends and even predict outcomes. The knowledge stemming from these capabilities ultimately can lead to more informed business decisions that maximize health and safety.
Time and Money Savings
Investing in a fully-automated safety management system can be a daunting task. The common perception is that the cost and time to implement such a system outweighs the benefits, but this is far from true. With the right system in place, one that is easy to implement and quick to get up and running, the return on investment most definitely will outweigh the initial cost and ramp-up time.
Culture of Safety
Employees will feel more motivated and engaged in a company culture that places a high priority on their safety. With a system that allows all employees to engage with the health and safety program and clearly understand the precautions in place, the company can collect more accurate data collection and promote a safe work culture.
A cost-effective enterprise class safety management system can help streamline your health and safety program, ensuring that all your employees arrive home safely every day.