This past year, employees across the nation suffered debilitating injuries in the workplace. For many, injuries led to amputation and permanent disability. For other, their injuries led to death. After any workplace accident, questions arise about fault, and if future accidents are preventable. In the worst cases, companies place profits above people with often disastrous consequences.
A recently published study in the Journal of Accounting and Economics highlights the correlation between profit and injury. Utilizing OSHA statistics and earnings information, the results are a bit unsettling. For companies meeting or slightly-beating earnings forecasts, the impact on staff is the most significant.
Employment illness rates for firms with stressful quotas increase by 5-15%. Firms falling below expectations had high percentages of affected staff as well. On average, for companies just meeting earnings goals, approximately 1 in 24 employees will fall ill or become injured. For companies falling below, the ratio is only slightly less-alarming at 1 in 27.
According to the study, this is largely thanks to two main contributing factors:
- First, in firms striving to meet earnings goals employees often shoulder larger workloads to meet expectations.
- Second, firms may cut corners on safety and wellness measures to meet goals.
Managers pressured to perform often pass stress along to their teams. This can include longer hours, increased workloads, and more. A fatigued staff is often more prone to illness or injury. Maintenance of machinery and other equipment, safety training, and other welfare measures are oft overlooked in exchange for short-term earnings.
Several standout figures emerged from the study:
- Companies with union labor tend to have better safety records than others. This is largely a result of negotiated safety equipment, workload, and schedules. There is speculation that union employees may feel more comfortable addressing safety matters as well.
- Workers compensation rates may motivate companies to be safer. The study found that companies operating in states with high workers compensation rates tended to have a reduced number of workplace injuries. It’s theorized this is a result of companies employing better safety measures to reduce claims expense.
- Companies contracted by state or federal agencies scored higher for safety. This is likely due to government standards necessary for placing bids.
The study represents reported workplace injuries. It’s quite likely a large number of workplace accidents go unreported each year. In some cases, management creates a hostile environment. Other times, employees may be in fear of reprisal or termination. For many companies profits take precedence.
When companies sacrifice safety standards any short-term financial gains will be forfeited. An injury or death in the workplace, beyond the obvious tragedy, can have a significant impact on a business. Damaged reputation, insurance claims, and lengthy legal battles are the tip of the iceberg. Safety is always the best choice. If you own a business, practice safety and get protection. Call an agent for more information about commercial insurance and liability protection through GR Little.