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.

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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 [...]

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NEW VIDEO: Business Owners Say Raise The Wage

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Women Veterans Show Their Colors in Tech Competition

by Terry Gerton September 12, 2014

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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 [...]

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