According to the National Safety Council, which hosted its annual Congress and Expo this week in San Diego, workplace injuries and fatalities cost our economy $198.2 billion a year. You read that right, 198.2 BILLION dollars a year. That amount of money would allow every kid in America to go to college…and pay their room and board. In an economy where every penny counts, cutting corners on safety is costing American business owners hundreds of millions of dollars every day.

Workplace deaths are rarely “accidental” – they don’t occur because of chance or randomness.  Instead, they are almost always preventable.  With few exceptions, OSHA investigations find workers were killed as a result of decisions made by employers not to protect them from obvious and well-known dangers.

There are, however, thousands of employers in every industry who have embraced a culture of prevention, where management and workers collaborate in efforts to “find and fix” problems.  Employers who belong to OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program or Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program for small businesses achieve not just lower injury rates but higher profits as well.

A well-known example of the link between worker safety and profitability is ALCOA, the large aluminum manufacturer.  Under former CEO Paul O’Neill, the company made safety not only a priority but a prerequisite by committing to a goal of zero injuries.  By managing for workplace safety, O’Neill improved the quality of the company’s products and made ALCOA one of the most profitable enterprises in the country.

Employers that invest in workplace safety and health can expect to reduce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. This will result in significant cost savings, including lowering workers’ compensation costs and medical expenses, avoiding OSHA penalties and eliminating the need to hire and train replacement employees. For these reasons, employers often find that changes made to improve workplace safety and health result in significant improvements to their organization’s productivity and financial performance.

When I spoke this week at the NSC Congress and Expo about protecting temporary workers, I was excited to see how many businesses took the message to heart, and thrilled to stand alongside businesses like Yoh Professional Staffing and Workplace Solutions who know safety is a key component to their success.

Workplace safety is not only the right thing to do for your workers; it’s the right thing to do for your business.

Dr. David Michaels is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.


Labor Commitments in Trade Agreements: “More than Words on a Page”

by Chris Lu September 19, 2014

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and several members of Congress in announcing an unprecedented action to  enforce a U.S. free trade agreement on behalf of workers in Guatemala and here at home.  This action was taken after years of working closely with the Guatemalan [...]

Read the full article →

Valuing Workers by Paying a Fair Wage

by Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block September 17, 2014

I had the great honor of joining a small group of faith leaders to meet with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to discuss issues facing low-wage workers.  It was a profoundly moving experience for me, not only because of the great diversity of clergy — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, and Jewish — but because [...]

Read the full article →

Let’s Talk About Pay

by Patricia A. Shiu and Latifa Lyles September 17, 2014

Lilly Ledbetter’s name has become synonymous with the pursuit of fair pay. For most of her career, she was like far too many women in the United States: underpaid and unaware. But did you know that the anonymous note Lilly received from a co-worker – the note that finally alerted her to the pay discrimination [...]

Read the full article →

A Woman’s Place – in Tech

by Latifa Lyles September 16, 2014

Over the past few months, several of the IT giants have released self-reported workforce diversity data. The data show that women hold a very small percentage of the tech jobs at these companies. At Apple, for example, only 20 percent of tech positions are occupied by women. The figures for Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo [...]

Read the full article →

Do the Math – and Save

by Phyllis Borzi September 16, 2014

Many of us are living longer and will have healthier and more active years in retirement. That makes saving for retirement even more important. Don’t let the math put you off. EBSA’s Savings Fitness online worksheets make it easy: Enter your information, and the calculations are done for you. In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage [...]

Read the full article →

Hispanic Heritage Month: Expanding Opportunity for All (Mes de la Herencia Hispana: Expandiendo Oportunidades para Todos)

by Secretary Tom Perez September 15, 2014

Editor’s Note: During Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we will run a series of blog posts related to how we can help expand opportunity for more people in America. For real-time updates in Spanish, follow the department on Twitterand Facebook. As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, I think about [...]

Read the full article →

NEW VIDEO: Business Owners Say Raise The Wage

by Secretary Tom Perez September 13, 2014

A café in Baltimore. A motel in Grants Pass, Oregon. A Christmas tree and produce farm in Natchitoches, Louisiana. What do they all have in common? The owners of these businesses all support raising the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Higher wages doesn’t just help workers; it helps their bosses too. [...]

Read the full article →

Women Veterans Show Their Colors in Tech Competition

by Terry Gerton September 12, 2014

On a recent trip to California, I had the privilege of attending the first VetsInTech Women Veterans Hackathon at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The event brought together women veterans of all eras of service who were interested in starting a business to pitch their ideas, get technical advice and compete for seed funding. [...]

Read the full article →

When a Worker Loses an Arm, Who Knows About It?

by Dr. David Michaels September 12, 2014

Did you know that if you lose an eye or a limb at your current job, your employer is not required to report it to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration? Well, that’s about to change. Starting on Jan. 1, 2015, all employers under federal OSHA jurisdiction will be required to report not only all [...]

Read the full article →