There are so many different costs for construction business owners to juggle, from wages to resources. However, one major cost which isn’t at the forefront of many managers minds is the losses incurred from injured workers.
These losses can have a big impact on your business as injuries can put your workers out of action — potentially for months. And they can of course be absolutely devastating for the affected employees, who should be your top priority. So, to both protect your staff and help your business, prioritising workers safety is a must.
But just how much can employee injuries cost a business? And what are some of the best ways to reduce these costs? The industrial tool suppliers Zoro are here to tell us more.
How much do construction-related injuries cost?
Injured employees can be a major cost for all businesses, but especially in high-risk sectors like construction. There are many different costs for businesses to consider when dealing with an injury, including paid sick leave, hiring temporary replacements, and sometimes compensation. So, it’s no surprise that construction-related injuries cost £659 million a year according to data from the HSE. On top of this the total cost of both injury and ill-health in the construction industry is a staggering £1.29 billion annually.
The good news is that there was a 7.85% decrease in the number of non-fatal injuries in the year 2019/20 (Professional Electrician). However sadly the number of fatalities in the construction industry rose from 1.36 workers per 100,000 in 2018/19 to 1.84 per 100,000 in 2020/21. So to save both you and your employees from financial burden, and most importantly to keep your employees safe, it’s important to consider the best ways to reduce these costs.
How your business can reduce these costs
The best way your business can reduce the cost of injured employees is of course by preventing these injuries in the first place. Here are some of the best ways to keep your employees safe on the job.
Give them top quality protective clothing
While it doesn’t eliminate the risk all together, having the best PPE is one of the most effective ways to prevent employees from sustaining injuries. It provides your staff with a barrier to help them avoid dangerous impacts of the hazard, and should be used at all times when dealing with dangerous tools and hazardous substances.
Check that the following pieces of PPE are up to date. If they’re looking worn and it’s more than just cosmetic damage, you should get rid of them straight away and opt for a new durable replacement.
· Good fitting hard hats to wear at all times.
· Ear defenders for employees working with loud machinery.
· Eye protection to avoid falling debris and protect the eyes when working with harmful chemicals.
· Masks to protect workers faces when working up close with tools, and to prevent them from inhaling toxic chemicals. The filter type should be appropriate for the type of particulate matter or dust that employees are likely to be exposed to.
· High visibility clothing so workers can be easily spotted at all times.
· Aprons, gloves, and other protective body wear to protect the skin from toxic chemicals.
As well as making sure the above are in good condition, you should also ensure that your staff find them comfortable. Employees are much more likely to keep wearing them when necessary if it is comfortable to do so. Stock a range of sizes and encourage staff to come to you for replacements if they no longer fit.
Provide staff with the appropriate training
It’s important that staff feel confident in preventing injuries for both themselves and their colleagues, so make sure that they receive health and safety training regularly. Many workplace injuries in construction are avoidable, so by giving staff the knowledge of what to do, you can significantly lower the risk of workplace accidents. This will also make your employees feel much safer at work, so it’s a win-win for the whole team.
There are many external training providers available if you would like to get advice from an expert. To find out more about the different options available, check out the official advice from the Health and Safety Executive.
You may also want to provide health and safety representatives who can both supervise the safety of your workforce and help out with training too. Having a dedicated health and safety representative can also make your employees feel more comfortable at work, and their feedback can help you tweak your health and safety policies when needed.
Conduct regular health and safety inspections
To help staff feel safe and reduce the risk of workplace injuries, try to conduct regular inspections. As well as making your employees more likely to follow the health and safety rules, you will also be able to review current safety guidance and decide whether it is working well or whether it needs any additional measures.
You can have an external health and safety advisor come in to inspect the workplace, but it’s also a good idea to supplement this with your own internal checks too. This allows the inspections to take place more often, to ensure that staff are regularly following the rules. And by conducting your own last-minute randomised inspections as well as routine ones, you can check that employees follow the rules if they don’t know they are being observed.
There are lots of different aspects to consider in a health and safety inspection, including use of machinery, storage of chemical substances, welfare practices, and fire safety, so it can be overwhelming for someone to conduct the checks alone. To make the inspections as thorough as possible, put together a team of health and safety inspectors so that no areas are missed.
Invest in the best tools
Using the best quality tools has numerous benefits for both employers and employees. It allows employees to produce their best work, it can make it much quicker and easier to complete jobs, and most importantly, it makes working with the tools much safer. High quality equipment is likely to be much safer than low quality or old, worn-out equipment. Plus, the best tools tend to last for a lot longer too, so investing in them is cost-effective.
As well as having the best tools on the market, employees should also feel confident in their ability to handle and use them safely. Every time you give employees a new tool, give them a thorough lesson in using it appropriately. While you may worry that this will take a while, it will save you time in the long run as it will give your staff the confidence to use the tools with ease.
It’s also a good idea to set up a formal reporting system on the state of your tools if you don’t already have one. This will allow staff to report concerns so you can catch potential hazards early.
“Keeping employees safe at work is vital for so many reasons. Most importantly for their mental and physical health, but keeping your staff safe will help the business too. Construction-related injuries alone cost a staggering £659 million a year, and both the affected employees and the businesses are burdened by this cost.
“Of course there is no way to eliminate the risk altogether, but construction businesses should put extra effort into prioritising the health and safety of employees. Regular workplace inspections and training will help your staff understand your health and safety policies and feel confident in applying them. And by simply investing in the highest quality PPE and construction tools, you can reduce the risk of injury for your employees drastically, so make sure to regularly check the condition of your current equipment and safety gear.”
– Kelly Friel, Digital Product Manager at Zoro