Canadian Treasurer

July 25, 2014

Focusing on workplace safety can deliver results

Northbrook, IL  – While the number of workplace accident rates is on the decline in the U.S., a number of high-profile and serious accidents in recent years has led to new safety processes. To create a healthier and safer workplace, UL, a global safety science company, believes that organizations must establish a culture in which employees actively identify indicators of unsafe conditions, both through formal and informal processes before a crisis hits. In doing so, organizations can learn from safety-related failures, or events that point to the potential for major negative outcomes, and implement necessary changes.

"The evolution of safety in the U.S. has a long and storied past with memorable tragic and catastrophic events. Each one provides a unique perspective for how we can prevent future events, if we take the time to learn from them," says Todd Hohn, UL's global workplace health and safety director. "However, we also believe learning happens through ongoing, day-to-day employee engagement in safety, not just when a crisis occurs."

UL recently hosted a workplace health and safety roundtable in which a number of participants representing a cross-section of senior business executives, insurance and risk management professionals, occupational medicine physicians, university faculty members, research and other subject matter experts came together to discuss pressing issues in creating a workplace health and safety culture today. Some of the discussions included:

  • How process change can save money and improve performance

  • The role of top management in creating a culture of safety

  • Increasing workplace productivity, along with the bottom line, by addressing the health risks employees bring into the workplace

  • Creating an organizational structure that enables a culture of health and safety

Traditionally, companies have kept their health and safety functions separate, hindering collaboration. UL believes it is crucial for organizations to integrate their health and safety functions and participants spent extensive time discussing organizational structures, alignment and outcomes to improve performance.

When organizations succeed in creating safer workplaces, it directly contributes to a better financial performance. According to the National Safety Council, a workplace injury takes place every six seconds.  J. Paul Leigh, professor of Health Economics at the School of Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences with the  University of California, Davis, estimates that occupational illnesses and injuries cost the American economy  $250 billion each year due to medical expenses and lost productivity.





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