Safety in the Workplace Part 1/2: Increasing Productivity and Managing Loss

What follows is the first part in a two-part series on safety in the workplace.

Workplace safety programs can support your business on two fronts. On the one hand, they help control loss, and on the other, they increase employee productivity. It’s worth noting that robust safety programs aren’t just for large corporations with deep pockets, they are also crucial to the success of small businesses. A survey of small business employees found that 17% never received workplace training; however, these businesses are the most vulnerable to the costs of workplace injury. A (2006) EMPLOYER study found that businesses that failed within one to two years of startup had an injury rate of 9.71, while those that lasted more than five years had a rate of 3.89. The stakes are high when it comes to reducing injuries in the workplace, and safety programs can help mitigate risk.

Let’s look at the costs associated with occupational safety. The main costs stem from actual workplace injury, which can lead to expenses like employee medical care, paid time off, and litigation fees. These costs are especially harmful to new and/or small businesses. There are further costs related to the legality of safety. Safety measures are required by law, and non-compliance can result in heavy fines and reputational harm. There are also more subtle costs related to the effects that unsafe practices have on workplace culture. Companies that provide safe workplaces are better at recruiting and retaining talent. The same (2006) EMPLOYER survey found, for example, that workplace safety was among the top criteria employees consider when evaluating a new job offer. A poor safety record can harm a company’s reputation within an industry and cause talented job applicants to shy away.

Maintaining a safe work environment is not just about controlling loss, there are also positive benefits. A safe workplace leads to improved employee satisfaction and increased worker productivity. So, in addition to reducing costs, safety also drives short-term revenue growth. Some of the benefits of having a strong culture of safety are intangible and difficult to measure but no less real. For example, while it’s obvious that employees care about their own safety, they also like to see that their employers take safety seriously, too. By fostering a culture of safety, a company can signal to its employees that they are recognized and valued. It’s up to businesses to set a good example by creating a space in which safety guidelines are clearly laid out and employees feel comfortable raising safety concerns to management.

Still need convincing? Check out OSHA’s “Safety Pays” tool, which allows you to calculate how occupational injuries and illness can impact your company’s profitability. Stay tuned for our next post, which will show how an incentive program can help you get the safety results you’ve been looking for!








Holizki, T., Nelson, L. and McDonald, R. (2006) ‘Injury Rates as an Indicator of Business Success’, Industrial Health Vol. 44, pages 166-168.

Make the Road New York and Small Business United (2011) ‘A Small Business Guide to Workplace Health & Safety’, Available at: Microsoft Word – MRNY Draft Small Biz Guide 06112011.doc ( (Accessed: 6/14/2023).

OSHA (no date) Business Case for Safety and Health. Available at: Business Case for Safety and Health – Benefits | Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( (Accessed: 6/14/2023).

ASSP (no date) Why Safety Is Good Business. Available at: Safety ROI – Return on Investment | ASSP. (Accessed: 6/14/2023).

Employers (no date) Loss Control: Creating a Culture of Workplace Safety. Available at: loss-control-whitepaper.pdf ( (Accessed: 6/14/2023).

BLR (2006) The ROI of EHS: Practical Strategies to Demonstrate the Business Value of Environmental, Health, and Safety Functions. Available at: The ROI of EHS ( (Accessed: 6/14/2023).