It’s no secret that safety requires an investment to be successful. But that budget will be consistently called into question. So here’s a clear breakdown of the savings versus costs of a safety program to justify the importance of that strong safety budget.
Creating an annual budget often requires being cut-throat. Or at least that’s the line told to every department head at the beginning of the fiscal year. But how valid that line of thinking is doesn’t really matter when being asked point blank to justify the current safety budget or lose it.
Breaking down the budget for safety can be complex. This is because measuring the ROI of a strong safety program is about factoring in how much the program saves as much as it is about how much education, equipment, and resources cost per employee. And costs of a strong safety program can be offset by the significant savings created by avoiding even a single injury.
It’s no secret that safety requires an investment to be successful. But that budget will be consistently called into question. So here’s a clear breakdown on the savings versus costs of a safety program to justify the importance of that strong safety budget.
The Costs of Safety
The actual cost of safety training per employee varies significantly between companies based on industry, size, and budget. Training Magazine’s 2020 Industry Report details that companies on average spend $1,111 on training per employee. This can be broken down even further to roughly $20/hr. of training when compared with the 55.4 hrs. of training provided per employee on average.
But this looks very different depending on the size of the organization:
- Small companies (100–999 employees) spent an average of $1,678 on training per employee.
- Mid-size companies (1,000–9,999 employees) spent an average of $581 on training per employee.
- Large companies (10,000+ employees) spent an average of $924 on training per employee.
And breaking down the costs compared to the average hours of training per employee means:
- Small companies spent an average of $40/hr.
- Mid-sized companies spent roughly $16/hr.
- and Large companies spent roughly $9/hr.
Yet employees in Large companies received an average of 102.5 hrs. of training hours compared to their counterparts in Small companies (41.7 hrs.) and Mid-size companies (34.7 hrs.).
It makes sense that Large companies would be able to allocate higher budgets to provide both more hours of training per employee and a lower average cost of training those same employees. But even safety that’s more expensive per employee is easily offset by the savings provided by a funded safety program.
The Savings of Safety
What does it cost to cut back on an organization’s safety program? Quite a bit.
This is also the measure to use when determining how much a company can save by investing in safety. Because every injury in the workplace is a cost that could be preventable with an investment in proper safety training, equipment, and resources.
The average workplace injury costs a staggering $41,003 in direct costs alone. This total doesn’t include costs from stopped work, OSHA fines and penalties, incident investigation and reporting, legal fees and consultations, nor costs to replace and train a worker — just the costs of the injury. This same injury can balloon into the millions once all indirect costs are factored in.
The resources drained by a single preventable incident can quickly outpace the entire safety budget. Not to mention the toll it would take on the organization as a whole. The social toll within a workplace from a fatal incident leads to lower overall productivity, higher turnover, higher onboarding and training costs, and lower overall morale. Which only eats further into the company’s budget and continues to reduce future ROI from every other department.
Investing in safety won’t prevent every possible injury or hazard in the workplace. But even preventing a single injury returns an organization’s entire investment in safety training.
Committing resources to create and maintain a healthy culture of safety through education and leadership initiatives will drive employees to adopt safer working habits, improve efficiency, and dramatically reduce the potential for future safety issues. Don’t bet on workers’ lives — put the smart money into safety education and create a safe workplace that supports workers and that is supported by safety.