Has the fear of a NAFTA collapse scared employers causing them to cut back on health and safety measures? Quoted from the Financial Post: “Already uncertainty has plunged business confidence to lows not seen since the financial crisis”.
So what impact will declining revenues have on safety? One safety specialist expressed it this way, “An economic crisis will have many effects on workplace safety… mostly negative.”
Many problems arise as the economy tightens. Layoffs force fewer people to do more work, while always thinking in the back of their minds, “Am I next?” As a result, focus shifts away from attention to detail, likely causing workplace accidents and injuries to increase.
Concern for job security means workers are reluctant to report safety infractions or near misses because they don't want to be perceived as “troublemakers,” and thus, one step closer to the door. From the employer's standpoint, safety training takes a budget hit, and accidents sometimes are not reported in order to keep insurance premiums down.
Another area that warrants concern is the machinery and equipment workers use.Conditions force extension of the life of equipment by re-tooling parts to save money, increasing the chance of breakdowns and possible mishaps.
Long-term business viability increasingly depends not only on productivity but also on meeting legal requirements and social expectations. Viewing safety as an option puts both your employees and your company in harm's way. Your company's reputation is at risk should a disaster or incident occur. Employers face a damaged reputation and brand when employees are injured, especially if the incidents are preventable.
It remains important to let employees know the message from top management is clear: “We will never compromise safety!” They have to be taught to watch out for each other and believe, through your example, that there truly is a “we're all in this together” mindset within the organization.Health and safety are not only the employer’s responsibility, it just makes good business sense. No price can be put on the safety and well-being of employees.