Investment Over Expense: How Safety Programs Improve The Bottom Line


Safety is not a sunk cost. Every single dollar spent on your organization’s safety program can return up to $3 back to the bottom line, according to a NIOSH report.

NSC estimates that U.S. work-related injuries and deaths cost $164 billion in 2020.  That’s equivalent to 14x Amazon’s annual profits!  “Okay”, you’re thinking.  “We’ve got a required safety program in place and a few people who manage it for us.  Done.  What’s next?”

Here’s the thing: a mandated program is usually about checking the boxes for compliance and moving on.  Unfortunately, set-it-and-forget-it works best for 401K’s – not people.

Until we get around a compliance only mindset, safety will continue to be viewed as just a required expense, and is likely to encourage as much active involvement as a middle school dance.


A now classic story of a CEO making a bold claim and backing it up, in 1987, Paul O’Neill publicly announced to Wall Street analysts that their above-average safety record was not good enough.  The new target? Zero injuries. 

He vowed to put safety over profits in coming years and gave permission and funding that became the necessary catalyst for an organizational transformation.  That’s pretty gutsy for a commodity company that handles molten metal. 

When the press pushed for specifics about the coming year’s revenue goals, O’Neill declined to offer any and restated the safety pledge, confident that productivity and profits would follow.  And they did.  The lost-workdays-per-100-workers stat dropped from 1.86 to 0.2.  In the same period, the company’s market value jumped by $27 billion.


When workers believe their employer is committed to keep them safe, a mutual reciprocity happens that impacts more than just the safety record.  Fresh ideas and extra efforts bubble up.  Most everyone has a unique perspective and now they’re compelled to contribute. 

Top-down approach, here.  It starts with communication and a commitment from leadership.  And there’s no exclusivity for just the Fortune 500 companies.  This approach is able to be harnessed by businesses of all sizes and operating budgets. 

Successful programs have these in common:

  • Data-transparency doc’s listing issues as they happen, and showing resolution status.  Get a link on your Intranet and scroll the document on breakroom screens.
  • Cross-functional teams get more done.  Ex: if it’s production related, operators interacting with engineers bring about better changes.
  • Line-down situation by a supervisor with a valid concern?  Encourage it.  Others are watching and learning. 


NSC has a great ROI simulator that calculates $$$ outcomes when specific tech investments are added to your workflow.  Following a quick online assessment of the work you do, several solutions are offered up, like downed worker devices, robotics and other recent digital innovations.  The focus:  reducing critical workplace incidents and showing actual dollars returned on your spend.

Here’s a value add:  Sonetics headsets connect your crew. Whether it’s training around introductions of new processes or equipment, or just business as usual.  Here’s a quick link to select your line of work and get the scoop on hands-free comm’s with hearing protection that will help enhance safety, and increase efficiency on your job site.


In an age where we’re struggling with supply chain and labor issues, we need every bit of productivity gains and cost savings we can get.  Engaged employees who are committed by choice are going to go the extra mile for their safety and your company’s overall success. 

We Use Cookies

By continuing to use our site, you agree to the use of cookies and other similar technologies. For details, read our Cookie Notice.