There is no doubt a safer company is a better company. And one of the best ways an organization can provide a workplace free from recognized hazards is by conducting safety audits.
What Is a Safety Audit?
A safety audit is a structured process used to discover if a company’s safety program is efficient, effective and reliable. This information helps an organization identify potential problems and take corrective action. Regular audits also prevent systems from becoming outdated or weakened by routine.
Although the terms safety audit and safety inspection often are used interchangeably, audits are more proactive. Safety inspections usually focus on identifying and removing risks, whereas safety audits examine the overall strategies and programs that lead to a safer workplace.
Why Should Our Organization Complete Safety Audits?
Companies Have a Big Responsibility
Accidents can have far-reaching consequences. Even a relatively minor event affects more than a single employee. Incidents have an impact on co-workers as well as employees’ families. And, in many cases effects extend to the physical plant, customers and the entire community. Corporations often list “doing the right thing” as one of their core values. Making safety a top priority shows their commitment to the greater good.
Accidents Are Expensive
According to one estimate, U.S. employers pay almost $1 billion per week for workers’ compensation costs alone. And this is only one direct cost. Indirect costs can add up even more quickly. Other expenses may include medical bills, repairs of damaged equipment and property, administrative fees to process the claim, accident investigation efforts, legal services, training and compensation for replacement employees, schedule delays, lost productivity, absenteeism and low morale. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Higher Standards Increase Productivity
In 1987, the new CEO of Alcoa, Paul O’Neill, sent Wall Street investors into a selling frenzy when he emphasized safety before profits. Thirteen years later, when O’Neill retired, Alcoa’s annual net income was five times larger and its market capitalization had risen by $27 billion. (HuffPost, 2012) O’Neill had struck upon what author Charles Duhigg refers to as a “keystone habit.” Focusing on one critical metric, worker safety, resulted in sweeping changes across the company. By paying more attention to the well-being of their workforce, Alcoa also examined and optimized inefficient manufacturing processes, improved communication, received more impactful employee feedback and built trust. A “safety first” policy can have lasting influence on an organization’s bottom line.
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