In a perfect world every company, regardless of its size, would have a full time safety manager who is dedicated to locating any hazards in the work environment and reducing or eliminating them quickly. The reality is, however, that many companies can’t afford to have a full time employee dedicated to this area and others don’t want to expend precious resources on this type of work. Trying to figure out when it is time to hire a safety manager is a critical part of any companies path toward becoming lean.
Looking in the Mirror
Like so many things in the business world, you will need to go off of objective data when deciding whether or not you need a safety manager. Looking at a variety of different statistics and other information about your facility may point you in the right direction. Some key indicators which may show you that you need to look into hiring a safety manager include the following:
- Workers Compensation Insurance – You can look at the ‘experience modifier’ on your workers compensation insurance. If it is too high that means your employees are using more of this insurance than normal and it might be time to get a safety manager.
- Accidents – Take a look at the accident reports for the last several months. What are your rates compared to competitors and how severe are most accidents.
- Industry – Some work environments are just more dangerous than others. It is smart to offset some of this danger by having an experienced safety manager helping identify unnecessary risks.
- OSHA Inspections – If you’ve recently been inspected by OSHA, did you pass with no issues or did you receive fines or other recommendations.
- Ask Employees – Nobody knows the safety concerns of your facility better than those working in it. Ask them how they feel about the safety environment and you’ll get an insider look at any potential concerns.
Each of these things can help companies balance the cost of hiring a full time safety manager and attempting to manage the risk on your own. Keep in mind, however, that there are other options as well. In some cases it is possible for several companies in similar industries to each contribute to hiring a full time manager which they will then share. The manager can work one or two days per week from each facility and provide excellent advice which can then be implemented.
The Cost of Accidents
Remember that even if you haven’t had a serious injury in your facility yet, the cost of even just one can be quite high. This is not only in terms of the actual injury to your employees, but also the loss of money. When employees are not working in an environment which is reasonably safe each accident can cost money if you get sued or by the amount of time that is lost when investigating the injury. Most facilities find that there is far less wasted time and money when you have a good safety manger on staff than when you just do your best to address concerns after they cause problems.