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Online Exclusive: National Safety Survey: The Price of Safety

Aug. 15, 2016
Survey respondents detail what is important when purchasing PPE, what they would do if resources were not an issue.

Despite an increase in spending from the previous year, managers are still working with limited resources when it comes to safety. About 71 percent of those who took EHS Today’s National Safety Survey said that their budgets increased in the 2015-2016 year.

However, budgets are still miniscule when it comes to providing a world-class safety and wellness to their employees. Survey takers listed they would improve their company’s wellness programs, provide top-of-the-line PPE and, above all, greatly increase the amount of training if they had more money to spend.

Improving wellness programs was a common theme. One survey respondent said they would build an effective wellness program, an onsite gym and safety sponsored programs/activities that would boost employee morale if their budget allowed. Another safety manager said they would hire a professional cleaning staff and provide onsite health care.

In addition, the pressure of a limited budget means safety managers more closely consider price when purchasing PPE. In fact, out of the six choices provided on the survey, price was a close second to the product certification level. Another top answer was comfort/fit of the PPE. If resources were not an issue, respondents agreed that they would provide better quality protection for their employees.

  • Being able to give them exactly what they ask for (More expensive boots on an annual basis, uniform service)
  • We do a lot of welding and I would love to have to the PAPR systems that basically double as welding hoods and respirator free supplied air. I think these would make the associates want to wear the PPE as well as put less stress on their respiratory system by eliminating the need for respirators.
  • Install air conditioning in the facility production areas. In the summer time, the heat and humidity do pose an issue. We promote frequent breaks and hydration. If we had air conditioning, it would help reduce the heat stress on the employees.

Some PPE on the wishlist of survey respondents included prescription safety glasses, ergonomic mats, lift tables, guardrails for roof and fall protection for ladders.

Still, the majority of safety managers said overall they would greatly expand training and programs for employees in the areas of fall protection, lockout/tagout and proper equipment operation, just to name a few.  In addition, they would increase the frequently of training programs to keep employees up-to-date.

  • Training, Training, Training. There is never enough and it is not administered in a fashion that is suitable for all. Also more employee involvement with the workings and functions of the EHS personnel and get a behind the scenes look. Getting everybody to work together as a unit.
  • In the transportation industry there is an extreme shortage of qualified and dedicated drivers to the trade. Additional internal resources to expand training to the point of a person becoming fully qualified in the areas of safety and productivity would reduce accidents and injuries.

Although spending more in different areas could decrease the instance of injuries and illness, money cannot solve all problems. Safety leaders and company management need to make sure their programs and training are truly effective, and regular engagement with employees is crucial, respondents said.

  • I do not believe throwing money will fix the issues. I believe that if all supervisors/managers truly walked the talk there would be a vast improvement.
  • More one on one engagement with middle management. While they want everyone working safely, they struggle to visibly demonstrate it to staff.

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