Should OH&S be prioritised?
Should OH&S be prioritised?
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) systems aim to safeguard employees by preventing occupational injuries and diseases in the workplace, as far as is reasonably practicable. Without efficient safety measures in place, avoidable injuries are likely to occur, affecting the financial and legal functions of a business.
“As a leading administrator of work-related injuries and health-related benefits, Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) has launched a prevention programme to supplement its clients’ OHS measures. We believe that preventing accidents, incidents, and working conditions that contribute to injuries or diseases has positive implications for business,” says Dr Jessica Hutchings, head of prevention at RMA.
The prevention programme was developed to mitigate an upsurge in avoidable injury claims, as well as assist clients to reduce workplace injuries and diseases. It helps to develop a culture of workplace safety and provides a deeper understanding of rehabilitation, both as a moral and legal obligation and a business imperative.
Hutchings provides some insights into some of the financial and legal ramifications of poor OHS practices for business.
Cost of unsafe working conditions/work environments
As a result of injuries sustained on account of unsafe working conditions or unsafe workplaces, employees may be required to take time off in order to recover. This, by implication, would require the business to employ temporary employees or, in severe cases where employees are unable to return to work, recruit new employees.
On their return to work, an injured employee might have restricted movement, as per a doctor’s instructions, which may require additional recruitment or contractors needing training and onboarding processes – all at a cost.
The addition of medical aid costs
There is a distinction between medical aid coverage and health insurance; an injury in the workplace can affect both. The two systems cover costs and pay outs differently. This means that injuries in the workplace will not only cost more from an insurance perspective, but also from a medical bill perspective.
Unsafe work practices and working conditions may have a direct impact on the quality of products, as well. Because affected employees may be absent during their rehabilitation, there is a threat of quality being compromised by a decline in a very important resource – human capital. As resources become less available or stretched beyond their capabilities, lower quality might follow. Should clients receive unsatisfactory goods or services as a result, their buying power might shift away from the business, possibly compromising sales.
Higher incident rates imply higher insurance premiums
An insurer will charge a higher premium when the risk of accident, loss, theft, or catastrophe is greater. A high incident or accident rate as a result of poor OHS measures can therefore contribute to the cost of insurance, having a financial cost implication on the business.
A threat to compliance and industry barring
Non-adherence is punishable by law and, as a business, a finding for non-adherence will compromise your industry reputation and future business engagements and prospects.
It is important to implement preventative measures and reduce the risk of injuries in the workplace. Employers should realise the importance of efficiently implemented health and safety practices. In short, compliance with workplace safety regulations is essential to the financial, legal, and reputational health of a business.