Skimping on Health and Safety Training Can Often End Up Costing More
Time and again there are cases where one or more people have been killed, injured or made ill due to insufficient health and safety measures in their workplace, brought about because the managers of the company are trying to spend as little money as possible. Typically this will take the form of:
1) Spending too little, if any, money on health and safety training to make workers aware of the dangers that they may encounter in the workplace. This can come from hazardous substances or dangerous machinery which they use in their job role for instance, or risks which are present in the workplace from other factors related to the workplace environment itself such as the potential for a fire to start somewhere in the building.
2) Trying to increase revenue and/or keeping expenditure low by deliberately cutting corners with regards to health and safety. Not only can this include not providing sufficient health and safety training, but can also mean:
- Not paying money on purchasing and maintaining necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Telling workers to avoid using safety items such as harnesses that take time to set-up, or not insisting that written procedures are followed and duly completed, all for the sake of speeding up the job and therefore increasing output.
The Difficulty in Determining Value From Health and Safety Training
Most managers dislike paying out money for anything, even supplies and wages, but many resent having to pay out money on something for which they cannot see immediate tangible benefits. They believe that health and safety is virtually all common sense, and that paying money out on safety training will be a waste as everybody should know what is dangerous.
The value of money spent on a pile of raw materials can easily be measured against the monetary amount of the known quantity of finished goods that that amount of raw materials will create. Managers can work out that x amount of raw material will result in y amount of finished products, which are sold for z and bring in an exact amount of revenue. With health and safety training however - and to a large extent money spent on protective equipment and safety features - a financial return on the initial spend will be impossible to calculate. Combine this with a misconception held by many managers that health and safety is all common sense and therefore training is unnecessary, and it provides all the justification that is being looked for by managers who do not wish to spend any money on health and safety for their staff members.
What Value Does Health and Safety Training Create?
Direct Financial Implications
The exact specifics will depend upon the health and safety legislation of the particular country in which it takes place, but generally speaking a person who is injured or made-ill from their workplace tasks or environment and was not suitably trained or provided with necessary safety equipment can often sue for compensation. Additionally, companies found to be in breach of applicable health and safety regulations in that jurisdiction can be fined large amounts of money. All of this means that there is the potential for an incredibly large bill, far in excess of the cost of providing health and safety training or suitable protective measures in the first place. This makes not providing training just to save costs a gamble that rarely pays of in the long term.
It can also be costlier to take out insurance after a significant financial claim, or if the insurance company is not satisfied that suitable safeguards to prevent an accident are not already in place.
Indirect Financial Implications
Providing health and safety training is not all about avoiding fines and compensation claims however. Workers who feel that managers care about their well-being will often feel happier and be more motivated. This will typically result in higher productivity and lower absenteeism levels, which will filter through to the bottom line eventually in the form of higher profits for the company.
So health and safety training should not only be viewed as a mechanism for avoiding fines and compensation claims, but also as a positive tool for increasing the motivation and productiveness of employees. In this case, workers and management alike benefit from a safe and pleasant workplace.