ASSE: Foulke Calls Injuries Expensive and Wasteful

During a panel presentation at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) “The Business of Safety — A Matter of Success” symposium in Baltimore, Md., OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. discussed how safety professionals can meet the expectations of senior management, stressing that they should be placed in the same professional caliber as company CEOs and CFOs.

“We need to start enhancing the safety professional to bring them up in their business organization,” Foulke stated. “We should make sure the safety professional is in the ‘C-room,’ where the CEOs [and] CFOs are. If we can get to that point, then I think upper management will be more focused on safety and health.”

Foulke explained that safety professionals can get senior management's attention by conducting and using research to demonstrate the importance of safety within the company by asking about which practices are best for lasting success and how can safety and health be a part of the way business is run.

He stressed that it makes business sense to ensure employees go “home safe and sound to their families and loved ones.” Doing so would reduce costs and boost worker efficiency and productivity, he said.

He also emphasized that workplace injuries and illnesses are “upsetting, expensive, wasteful and unnecessary.” Hidden costs are tied to injuries and illnesses, he said, as they often involve time lost from work, training costs for new workers and replacement costs for damaged tools. Liberty Mutual, in its 2006 Workplace Safety Index, estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week to injured employees and their medical care providers.

“Allowing people to go home every night safe and sound to their families and loved ones is something that I talk about in all my speeches as being the real bottom line for every business,” he said.

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