Attention to Health and Safety Fuels Small Business Growth

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Oct. 13, 2015 /CNW/ - Small Business Week runs Oct 18 – 24, 2015 and small business owners of all sizes are realizing that one of the simplest and most effective ways to manage risk and fuel growth is to invest in creating a healthy and safe workplace.  Under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers with more than five workers are required to take measures to ensure a safe workplace. This includes developing and reviewing health and safety policies; communicating employer and employee responsibilities; having a health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee perform inspections and audit the health and safety program; identifying, controlling and informing workers of hazards; and providing training and equipment to enable employees to work safely at all times.  The business advantages of integrating health and safety are too numerous to ignore.

Creating a healthy and safe workplace is an important part of any risk management strategy. A single incident can deal a devastating blow to a small business. If it is a serious workplace injury, the Ministry of Labour will investigate. A fire will bring the Fire Marshall to the door. And if violence erupts in a workplace or a motor vehicle incident occurs, police will get involved. Worse than all of the negative attention, is the weight of knowing that a preventable incident has injured or negatively impacted colleagues, family, friends, and the community.  There are many reasons why small businesses don't want to see this happen. It isn't just compliance and risk management that are motivating small business owners to broaden their view of health and safety from a necessity of law to a strategic business imperative.

Businesses that create a culture of health and safety have been shown to experience higher engagement levels, fewer injuries and absences, higher productivity and greater financial results, and according to McKinsey & Company, at least 50% of a business's financial success is driven by health and safety.

The 2013/2014 Staying@Work study completed by Towers Watson revealed a strong link between highly effective health strategies and human capital and financial results. Highly effective companies experienced half the rate of voluntary turnover; 1.2 fewer days of unplanned absence per employee, per year; shorter disability durations; and 2% fewer cases of short-term disability. Other studies have shown that healthy and safe businesses experience 20% more revenue per employee and 4% higher profit margin. The majority of respondents in the study said health and productivity were strategic priorities, and they expect to increase support for these programs over the next two to three years.

Lost-time injuries include helping the injured get appropriate care; managing the disruption with employees and possibly customers; rescheduling work; finding and training replacement staff; unplanned overtime and extra wages; equipment damage; and MOL fines and penalties. According to data from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, in 2013 the average benefit cost per lost time claim in Ontario, including administration expenses, totalled $50,224. And that doesn't take into account indirect costs like finding and training replacement staff; unplanned overtime and extra wages; equipment damage; and possible fines and penalties. These additional losses can easily add up to more than 4 times the direct cost of the incident.  Assuming an expected profit margin of 5%, the business would have to make nearly a million dollars in sales just to cover the direct cost of the injury.

According to Elizabeth Mills, President and CEO of Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), "Creating a health and safety program doesn't have to be complicated. Simple steps can make a difference. Regularly conducted "quick talks" on health and safety, documenting safe operating procedures, providing checklists and material safety data sheets as topic guides all help to build safety routines into business operations.  And management walkabouts, quick staff meetings, handwritten memos, notes in a log book, and staff safety champions are all viable strategies that demonstrate diligence if an inspector calls."  WSPS offers impactful risk management solutions, health and safety expertise and insight for creating healthy work environments where employees thrive and businesses prosper and can be reached at www.wsps.ca.

SOURCE Edye Rome Communication Services

For further information: Edye Rome, edyerome@sympatico.ca (416 993 6213) or Mary Ann Freedman, (416 868 1500) maf@freedmanandassociates.com

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