Many manufacturers see an inverse relationship between safety and productivity – if you focus too much on safety factors, you hinder productivity. It has become a rather contentious issue, especially for safety professionals who are trying to disabuse people of the misconception that the two are polar opposites.
The fact is, safety professionals say, the two are complementary. By focusing on safety, you increase productivity as well. Workers who are injured cannot produce anything, and workers who are afraid of getting injured don’t produce as much either. But it is a tough sell. Things like safety training, lock-out practices, and other plans that have been put together to keep workers safe are all seen as drags on productivity.
To prove their point, safety professionals have put together a great deal of data, drawing from research and studies on the connection between safety and productivity. The studies looked at company safety performance in three main areas – culture, the support that leadership gives to safety initiatives and the establishment of safety teams; compliance, the risk management processes and procedures that have been put in place; and technology, the investments a company has made in technology that both improves safety and productivity.
What the studies showed is that companies that received the best scores in the three areas for safety also were the most efficient. Companies that ranked in the top 20 percent overall for safety also scored 90 percent in overall equipment effectiveness, with just 2 percent unscheduled downtime. Their overall equipment effectiveness was 5 to 7 percent higher than the industry average, and almost 15 percent higher than the bottom 30 percent in safety. Moreover, these same companies also recorded injury rates of only 0.05 percent, which is almost 20 times less than the average company, and 60 times less than those at the bottom for safety.
If injury rates can be halved, overall equipment effectiveness and unscheduled downtime can both be increased, according to safety professionals. Greater safety can drive greater productivity. The studies show that companies can increase their profitability just by keeping their workers safe.
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