This article quickly outlines a handful of procedures that businesses should use on a regular basis, such as routine health maintenance and safety audits, to guarantee prompt action to maintain project safety.

Occupational injuries are reaching unprecedented levels, with over 2.3 million lives lost each year due to work-related hazards or diseases, as estimated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In India, the situation is dire, with registered factories reporting 1,109 deaths and over 4,000 injuries annually between 2017 and 2020. Shockingly, that amounts to three fatalities every day. The gravity of the issue demands immediate attention from Indian organisations, urging them to prioritise workplace safety and create safer environments for their employees.

The growing burden of workplace accidents

Workplace accidents not only inflict physical and psychological harm on workers but also place an enormous burden on their families. Rising medical bills often leave these families burdened with insurmountable debt. Additionally, the loss of income for the injured worker and the carer can compound their financial struggles. Businesses are not spared either, as they often face significant financial losses, reduced productivity, and a negative impact on organisational culture and morale. Contrary to popular belief, not all workplace accident costs are recoverable through insurance, with hidden costs, legal expenses, and potential prosecution fines lurking beneath the surface, much like an iceberg.

The iceberg effects

The costs associated with workplace accidents extend far beyond the visible surface. Loss of production, potential business contract cancellations, and reputational damage can have severe consequences for organisations. Legal expenses and fines incurred during accident investigations can be exponentially higher than insurance coverage. Moreover, the trust of clients and employees can be irreparably damaged, leading to a loss of business opportunities and a decline in motivation among the workforce. These intangible costs highlight the urgency for businesses to adopt a strategic approach to safety and prioritise the well-being of their employees.

Businesses must take a strategic approach to safety

To tackle the surge in workplace accidents, organisations must integrate safety into their overall business strategy. Accidents rarely occur overnight, and identifying and mitigating hazards requires a comprehensive approach. Setting clear safety policies and practises is the first step towards creating safer workplaces. Organisations should conduct regular health and safety audits to identify risks and implement remedial measures. Making safety a part of performance evaluations and fostering a safety culture within the organisation are crucial. Engaging employees in safety planning and decision-making, building competency, and establishing effective communication channels for reporting safety issues are key elements of a successful safety strategy.

Building a safety culture within the organisation

Developing a safety culture is vital to minimising hazardous incidents in the workplace. A positive and inclusive safety culture not only enhances workplace safety but also boosts productivity. To foster such a culture, leadership must actively involve employees in safety initiatives and integrate safety into all aspects of business planning and decision-making. Building employee competency through training and providing accessible communication channels for reporting safety concerns are essential steps. Employees should be encouraged to take ownership of safety practises, and their contributions should be recognised and valued. By implementing these measures, businesses can create an environment where workers feel safe, resulting in increased productivity and long-term sustainability.

The alarming rise in factory fatalities demands immediate action from Indian organisations. By prioritising workplace safety, setting clear policies, conducting regular safety audits, and building a safety culture, businesses can minimise accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The benefits of creating safer work environments extend beyond physical safety, as they contribute to financial stability, improved productivity, and enhanced organisational reputation. It is time for organisations in India to recognise the urgency and take proactive steps towards ensuring the well-being of their employees and the long-term success of their businesses.

(This article is authored by Suresh Tanwar, Head of Audit and Consultancy, British Safety Council (India)).

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